Businesses closed around the country Thursday as part of “A Day Without Immigrants” in an effort to demonstrate the impact of immigrants on the nation as well as opposition to immigration policies put forth by President Trump. In cities from Chicago to Austin, demonstrators also took to the streets as part of this movement, much of which spread over social media.
Lubbock did not see any of the protests or major closures that larger cities did, but several businesses closed their doors in solidarity.
P&R Surge Systems Inc., was closed for business Thursday.
“I thought about it and I said I’m joining this force, to let the administration– not the president– to let the new administration know, hey guys, we’ve got a problem, that’s why I decided to shut down the company for today,” said the owner Henry Martinez. Martinez said he hadn’t heard of any other businesses in town who knew the day of protest was happening, he found out through his wife who found out through social media.
Martinez runs a small business which provides tools that help with irrigation and agricultural maintenance. While neither he nor any of his six employees are immigrants, he sells his products all over the world and all over the U.S. to farms that rely on immigrants to run their businesses.
“The immigrants have definitely had an effect on P&R Service Systems, no questions asked,” he said.
Martinez explained that many of the people who are actually implementing his products on farms are immigrants.
“This wall, I’m completely against it,” Martinez said referring to the border wall President Trump has promised. “I even heard that from one of my dealers in Harlingen, Texas and he told me, ‘Henry, if they do this, I go under, because most of my workers are immigrants.'”
Martinez wants lawmakers to consider policies that would have more compassion for law-abiding undocumented immigrants working in the U.S. He is concerned that not enough research has gone into the immigration policies coming from the Trump administration so far.
“All I’m asking is for them to be given a chance to make a living just like me and you,” he said.
“I am not attacking anything, I just want it to be understood that if we start interfering with the people who do the work, then who is going to do it? That’s my opinion,” Martinez said.
Lubbock attorney and former city council member Victor Hernandez also closed his law office in solidarity Thursday.
Hernandez sent the following statement about why he closed business Thursday:
“My wife and I are 1st generation American citizens. Our parents were born and raised in Mexico, we were born in the US. In addition, we are Catholics, followers of Christ, who believe, not only the teachings of Christ, but in the implementation of those teachings. Finally, we believe that all people are interconnected and actions taken against our brother and sisters in humanity are actions taken against us.
As a former CPT in the US Army who served overseas, as a former elected official of 17 years, I am appalled and equally disheartened in what America is becoming. And for those who would even think of saying, if I don’t like it that I can leave I say, this is my America!”