WESLACO — Within a taquería on the north side of town stood a business owner on Friday willing to make a small sacrifice for the sake of issuing a big statement.
At a press conference that morning, Taquería El Huequito owner Raymundo Medina announced plans to give his employees the day off on Monday in support of immigrants’ contribution to the U.S. economy.
He was surrounded by social activists from the South Texas region who chanted, “No los vamos a ir (we’re not going to leave),” in acknowledgement of a growing sentiment among many Hispanics and other minorities who feel threatened by President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and policies.
Among Trump’s more controversial moves have been his ongoing plans to construct a border wall and his travel ban executive order that focused on predominantly-Muslim countries.
What’s more, Thursday’s passage of State Bill 4 by the Texas House of Representatives authorizes local police to enforce federal immigration law. It also allows the state to withhold funding from county and local governments for acting as sanctuary cities, the Associated Press reported.
“… With today’s racist and discriminatory executive orders against immigrant communities, progress is being squashed, creating a hostile environment not just for workers but for everyone,” read a press release that Marlene Chavez of the Rio Grande Valley-Equal Voice Network issued on Thursday.
As much has largely inspired local efforts to observe the May 1 strike that’s encouraged nationwide, which has been titled, “A Day Without Immigrants (Un Dia Sin Inmigrantes).”
Maria Cordero of the Equal Voice Network, which organized Friday’s press conference, explained that the strike asks consumers, students and business owners to do the following: “Don’t buy, don’t work, and don’t send your kids to school for one day.”
“It’s only a small gesture that will impress a system that doesn’t want to recognize us,” Cordero added at the press conference, which was held entirely in Spanish at Medina’s taquería.
Medina agreed that if the strike gains enough participation locally as well as nationwide, a significant impact with regard to immigrants’ contribution to the national culture, society and economy will be felt.
“It’s not so much a sacrifice, but a show of support for what immigrants contribute to this country and the economy,” Medina, who employs five people at his taquería, said. “I want to make other business owners aware of that situation.”
Joining Medina will be Julio Torres, owner of Don Julio’s bakery in Mercedes, who has also agreed to give his employees the day off on Monday.
“It’s for immigrants’ rights,” Torres said in the release.
Those willing to sign a petition committing similar participation can contact Equal Voice Network organizers by calling (956) 990-1550.
Other organizations that participated in Friday’s press conference include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) and the ARISE Support Center.
Also occurring Monday is the May 1 March organized by Fuerza del Valle, which encourages participants to “join our brothers and sisters going on strike, boycotting, and demonstrating across the nation in total repudiation of immigration policy that criminalizes our communities…”
The march will begin with a picket line at 11 a.m. in front of the La Quinta Inn in McAllen, located at 1100 S. 10th St., before proceeding to the McAllen city hall and finishing at Archer Park.
“By immigrants not working, we’ll see how important they are here,” Medina added. “We can’t let them be treated like criminals.”