Dozens of businesses in Central VA participate in 'Day Without Immigrants'

Dozens of businesses in Central VA participate in 'Day Without Immigrants'

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - On Thursday, businesses, employees and families across the nation participated in a protest called "A Day Without Immigrants." The point is to highlight the contributions immigrants make in our communities.

Businesses in the Richmond area are taking part, with some closing for the day and even some families keeping their kids home from school.

Mass Flow Barbershop on Meadowdale Boulevard is usually bustling. On Thursday afternoon, it was empty. A sign on the front door says it is taking part in a nationwide boycott, which owner Jariton Vega supports.

"I know we might be losing a few thousand dollars today, but I figure it's important to send a message," says Vega.

The hope is communities and the president will realize how big of a contribution legal and undocumented immigrants make. It's also in response to President Trump's immigration agenda, which includes building a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and the deportation of illegal immigrants across the country who have lived peacefully in America.

Businesses that are participating in the boycott are posting signs on their front door. It says things like do not go to work, don't open your business, don't shop online or eat at restaurants and even don't send you children to school.

"From what I know, around 26 businesses owned by Hispanics are closing their doors today," says Vega.

Vega, who was born in the Dominican Republic and is a U.S. citizen, says his American dream was to own a business. He now has two locations in the Richmond area and wants people to know that immigrants just like him give so much to their communities.

"We are hard-working people," he said. "We work seven days a week to provide for our family."

NBC12 also asked Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney about the city-wide boycott. He signed a directive calling Richmond a city of inclusion.

"It's time to stop the divisive language that's coming out of our elected leaders," he said. "This is a nation of immigrants, and this is a city built on diversity, and I want them to know they play a vital role in building one Richmond."

NBC12 asked Richmond Public Schools if any students were missing the day because of the nationwide boycott.

RPS released the following statement:

We have been notified of preliminary reports showing an increase in absences at those schools however, we are unable to confirm any direct correlation to the 'Day Without Immigrants' protest as the official reports are ran at the end of the school day and are not broken out by any subgroups.

Copyright 2017 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved