Clanton businesses participate in “A Day Without Immigrants”

Published 11:23 am Friday, February 17, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

CLANTON — A few businesses in Chilton County were closed on Feb. 16 as a part of “A Day Without Immigrants.”

This national observance was spurred on by a social media post calling for immigrants to come together and show “to the president: without us and our contribution this country is paralyzed.”

This flyer is an example of the social media post that spurred on "A Day Without Immigrants" participation in Chilton County. (Contributed photo)

This flyer is an example of the social media post that spurred on “A Day Without Immigrants” participation in Chilton County. (Contributed photo)

Gonzalez Tacos and Burgers and Little Mexico, a Mexican grocery store, were closed.

Victor Gonzalez opened Gonzalez Tacos and Burgers two years ago, about a year after coming to the United States.

“We have been here in this country a long time … This country has been good,” Gonzalez said.

He said he participated in “A Day Without Immigrants” in support of “immigration laws that are fair” and would not separate families through deportation.

“A lot of people come here to work and help this country,” Gonzalez said.

In the end, however, Gonzalez finds hope in his faith.

“God has it in control. I believe that God is in control of this country,” Gonzalez said.
Yazmín Contreras’ parents own Little Mexico.

“Both my parents are immigrants from Mexico. They have been in Chilton County for over 28 years,” Contreras said.

They have owned the store in Clanton for about 20 years.

Contreras said they made the decision to close for the day to “show solidarity for immigrants across the country.”

“We are a part of the U.S. economy and … part of what makes this country great and we don’t appreciate the hate rhetoric that has been spread about all of us,” Contreras said.

In some larger U.S. cities, participants met together in protest marches, but that was not the case in Chilton County.

“I think it is great today to show how many immigrants are successful business owners,” Brandon Vela of Clanton said.

Vela, an independent consultant, participated by not working. Instead, he kept in contact with friends to find out who else in Chilton County was participating.

He participated “to show that immigrants are an important piece of the puzzle of America” and to show solidarity against “threats to immigrants being deported.”

“I think it is important because throughout the past few month as [President Donald] Trump was running for office he used harsh words against the immigrant community. It put us under scrutiny,” Vela said.

These comments, according to Vela, led to people believing stereotypes about immigrants, including stereotypes that claim immigrants take jobs from citizens and use up government resources. Vela said these stereotypes are not accurate, and many immigrants are hard working.

Vela is the son of immigrants who came to the United States from Mexico 17 years ago.