About 150 students demonstrated at Paso Robles High School and several local restaurants closed their doors Thursday in solidarity with “A Day Without Immigrants.”
Cindy Becerra, a senior at Paso High, said the students participated in a demonstration during their lunch hour to show their support for the cause. The demonstration started outside the school on Niblick Road, but after 15 minutes the school’s administration called students back inside, so they marched around campus instead, Becerra said.
“Immigrants are not here to cause trouble,” she said. “They’re here to contribute to our economy and our society.”
Martha Clayton, public information officer for Paso Robles Joint Unified School District, issued a statement Thursday evening about the demonstration: “A group of PRHS students gathered during their lunch break today in protest of the current national immigration issues. The demonstration was student-organized. When the bell rang at the end of lunch, all students went to their next class. Students have the right to express their views about issues that are important to them. Our role is to make sure that all students, regardless of their views, are safe and secure. Thus, school and district staff were on hand to help ensure the safety of the entire student body during the duration of the protest. We are committed to maintaining PRHS as a welcoming place for all of its students and families.”
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“Farm-fresh food is not possible without the hard work of our farm labor workforce; locally sourced cuisine is not possible without the hands to craft it,” wrote Robin Covey, the owner of Novo and Luna Red, in a Facebook post Thursday morning. The post said that the two restaurants would be closed “because they would not be possible without the dedication of the people who first grow the food and our teams who prepare it.”
Greg Holt, the owner of Big Sky, said he won’t be able to pay his staff for the Thursday closure.
“I wish I could. I just can’t. If it were feasible, I would,” he said. But keeping the restaurant closed for a day is “not about money, it’s about doing the right thing.”
Giovanni DeGarimore, owner of Giovanni’s Fish Market in Morro Bay, took a different approach to show appreciation for his immigrant workers. The owner bought lunch for all of his employees as a way to thank them for showing up to work Thursday.
“It felt like the right thing to do,” DeGarimore said. “I wanted to say thank you for coming to work today.”
DeGarimore said he feels protest should be an individual’s decision, not the restaurant’s.
“I support legal immigration. I support their solidarity. But for me, closing my doors is not a way to show support,” he said. “I want to support my workers in general, but because today was a day meant to honor immigrants, I just took a different way to it.”
“A Day Without Immigrants” was organized in response to positions on immigration taken by President Donald Trump and his administration. The president has pledged to build a wall along the Mexican border and increase the deportation of immigrants living in the country illegally.
Organizers of the event, which took place in cities across the country, called for immigrants to miss class, miss work and not shop to show America how important they are to the country’s economy and way of life.