Businesses close, students stay home on "Day Without Immigrants"

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Some local restaurants and businesses were closed and some students stayed home Thursday as part of nationwide protest by immigrant families against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

Some local stores and restaurants closed Thursday as part of the nationwide "A Day Without Immigrants" protest. (Photo by Erin Zeller)

The purpose of the “A Day Without Immigrants” protest was to show the impact the immigrant community has on the economy.

In Waco, some restaurants including Lolita’s and Mexicana Bar & Grill shut their doors as part of the protest, and attendance was down slightly in the Waco ISD because of the protest.

Nearly 60 percent of the students in the Waco ISD are Hispanic, according to the Texas Education Agency.

Waco ISD Communications Director Bruce Gietzen said 1,735 students were absent Thursday for various reasons.

"Attendance was down a little bit, districtwide about 6 percent,” he said, and down about 10 percent at the Cesar Chavez campus.

“Some of that is from the flu and allergies, but some is also from this protest,” he said.

"The district respects the family's rights to protest that way and stand up for what they believe in. We just hope it's a one-day deal and hope the kids will be back tomorrow, because every day the students miss has a negative effect. Our goal is to give the kids the best education they can get,” Gietzen said.

Temple ISD officials said attendance was normal at district campuses, but McGregor ISD administrators reported a spike in absences.

While some local business owners shut their doors, others remained in operation.

Sam Simpson, the General Manger at Fitzgerald’s Lawnscaping, said the majority of his employees are immigrants.

"This is a busy season, we've got jobs and we've got folks we tell we're going to be here that day, so we're going to be there that day," Simpson said.

He said he supports and respects his workers, and he is glad almost all of the company’s employees showed up for their shift.

"They are family, I can feel for them and their families at home, I'm sure they're probably somewhat scared of the future. What's going to happen? We don't know,” Simpson said.

Some people expressed their support for the protest and the local immigrant community.

Waco resident Rick Allen showed up at Lolita’s Thursday morning for breakfast and found the restaurant closed, but understands the reason.

"Everybody who lives in America came here from somewhere else whether it was 10,000 generations ago or 2 generations ago,” he said.

"We've always been a land of opportunity. I really believe in what the statue of liberty says, give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. That's the story of both sides of my family.”