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Businesses closing for ‘Day Without Immigrants’

Protest will be followed by march at state Capitol

POSTED: July 1, 2011 1:21 a.m.

Cerramos. Closed.

That's the word posted on the doors to Carniceria Tapatia on Browns Bridge Road today as employers join the grass-roots A Day Without Immigrants protest against Georgia House Bill 87.

Portions of the bill, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, are set to go into effect today.

"We're calling for statewide action," said Eva Cardenas, community organizer for the Atlanta-based Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights. "We're asking the community not to shop and not to work."

Noe Covarrubias, manager of Carniceria Tapatia, said the store is one of 40 businesses owned by his family that will be closed today.

"It's basically just to show the economic power immigrants have," he said. "There's thousands of people here whether they're illegal or legal. It just takes one person to spread the word ... A lot of our customers are participating."

This is the second time the store will be closed to take a stand against immigration laws, Covarrubias said.

He was unsure of how many other local businesses will be shut down today.

"(Immigrants) appreciate that local businesses are here in support of them," he said. "The immigrant community is a big part of the cash flow in the United States."

Kit Dunlap, president of the Greater Hall County Chamber of Commerce, said she is unsure how much of an economic impact A Day Without Immigrants will have on the area.

"How would you know? Everybody's leaving anyway for the holiday. They've already left or they're leaving today or tomorrow," she said. "It's certainly not the best way to protest if you support this country."

Gainesville Mayor Ruth Bruner, however, does think the city could see reduced spending.

"I can certainly understand why they want to have a protest. They're trying to make a statement," Bruner said. "I think there'll be a certain impact countywide, but I don't know how much."

A Day Without Immigrants will be followed Saturday with a mass rally and march at the state Capitol, Cardenas said.

"The people responsible for HB 87, we're calling these people out," she said. "It shows there's a problem at the federal level for comprehensive immigration legislation."

Covarrubias said between 287(g), which took effect in 2008, and HB 87, Hall County has been hit hard by existing immigration reform.

"The message that I personally want to send is they need to pass immigration reform," he said. "The people who are already here, they have to stop breaking up homes and leaving children without a breadwinner. A good reform would better communities and the economy."

Though A Day Without Immigrants has only been in the works for about two weeks, Cardenas said Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights received lots of community support statewide.

"We've had people call to say, ‘I'm closing my shop down, I'm asking my employees not to come to work and I'll pay them,'" she said. "I have heard of 15 (immigrant-owned) stores personally that are closing. These are chains that will close other branches."

Cardenas said some in the immigrant community expressed concern that not showing up at work today might cost them their jobs, but she added in many cases the bigger picture won out.

"It's a risk that we're willing to take," she said.



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