By Jon D. Melegrito
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Child of immigrants
Co-owner Patrice Cleary said she closed her restaurant out of a sense of deep loyalty and gratitude to her 35-member staff, half of whom are immigrants. In an interview with ThinkProgress, Cleary said that as the child of immigrants, “the show of solidarity was partially due to her parents who taught her the same values of hard work, dedication, commitment and perseverance that she’s now seeing in her employees.”
right pic: Fil-Am lawyer Francey Lim Youngberg (L) and Fil-Am Restaurateur Patrice Cleary inside Purple Patch, which employs immigrants. Both participated in protest actions against Trump’s immigration policies. (PINOY Photo by Jon Melegrito).
Closing the restaurant, she added, “not only allows the community to recognize how valuable they are to me but also allows them the opportunity to support something they strongly believe in without the thinking of the possible consequences from missing work. They take care of me as I take care of them. We all need each other. My restaurant wouldn’t be the successful restaurant that it is today without the immigrants that work with me.”
Bad Saint, another Filipino-owned restaurant which was rated last year by Bon Appetit as the Number Two best restaurant in the United States, also shut down during the strike. It posted this message on its website: “This restaurant would not exist without immigrants - our colleagues, friends and families. Their industry, generosity, and intrepid spirit are the backbone of this country.”
At Boundary Road, a neighborhood restaurant in Northeast D.C., the restaurant’s beverage director, Filipino American Ejay Apaga, took food orders all day, and did other tasks usually left to the kitchen staff. “This is my way of supporting them, being here so they don’t have to,” said Apaga, in an interview with PBS News Hour. On an average Thursday evening, Apaga said Boundary Road takes in $2,000. On Thursday evening, he said he’d be surprised if the restaurant made more than $500.
The day after the strike, immigration rights proponents hailed the boycott as a “powerful illustration of the shared power of immigrants and their allies.”
“Day Without Immigrants” was the latest of several other mass demonstrations that have taken place since President Trump’s election win.
Travel Ban Protests
On January 27, Trump issued his executive order banning nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries, creating chaos at airports in major U.S. cities. That weekend, hundreds of attorneys descended on U.S. airports all over the country to offer free legal help to the travelers and family members of loved ones detained under the President’s directive.
Among the Filipino American lawyers who assisted is Francey Lim Youngberg, formerly Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). She was seen with other ACLU lawyers at Dulles International Airport, holding a sign in Arabic that said “Free Legal Help.”
In an interview with Manila Mail, Youngberg recounted growing up under martial law in the Philippines. “It felt terrifying,” she said. “It’s starting to feel that way now in my adopted country. So, whatever skills we have, we must rise up to defend the America that we love.”
Youngberg, who worked for both the Clinton and Obama administrations, warned that “this travel ban is nothing less than a Muslim ban. We must defeat it in Congress, the legal courts and the courts of public opinion.”
What Next? More protest actions are expected in the coming weeks. Organizers of the January 21 Women’s March on Washington have announced holding a general strike on March 8, “A Day Without a Woman,” which happens to be International Women’s Day.
“We saw what happened when millions of us stood together in January,” the group pointed out, “and now we know that our army of love greatly outnumbers the army of fear, greed and hatred.”
Almost weekly protests have become the norm now in the nation’s capital. Filipino American civil rights activists are vowing that as long as Trump’s policies are harmful to the nation’s interests, organized mass resistance efforts will continue.