The Day Without Immigrants protest shut down businesses nationwide last week, but it didn’t come without some consequences for a handful of workers who decided to take part in the demonstrations.
Dozens of workers said they lost their jobs after taking part in Thursday’s protest. The boycott was aimed squarely at President Trump’s efforts to step up deportations, build a wall at the Mexican border and close the nation’s doors to many travelers. It was unclear how many participated.
Twelve Latino employees from the I Don’t Care Bar and Grill in Tulsa, Okla. told Fox 23 News they were fired over text message because they didn’t show up for their shift and failed to let their employers know about their absence. The employees told the station they expected to be reprimanded, but not dismissed.
The firings led to an outcry in the community.
“If you have 12 people who feel strongly and want to make a stand, I think management should have taken a look at that and at least stood by them or give them some time,” Catherine Bishop, of Broken Arrow, told Fox 23 News.
The restaurant had already posted on Facebook seeking employees for its open positions.
Meanwhile, Carmen Guerrero, an immigration activist told the Philadelphia Inquirer that six people were fired from their jobs at a Bahama Breeze in King of Prussia for taking part in the protest. Guerrero said when the workers heard of the protest, they decided to join in and when they showed up Friday for work they allegedly were told they couldn’t enter the building.
Bahama Breeze spokesman Rich Jeffers told the paper that “no one was ever fired.” Guerrero said the workers told her that they were all rehired “to make it look like nothing happened.”
According to News Channel 5, 18 workers from Bradley Coatings Inc. were let go. The workers told the station they told their employer they would be joining in the nationwide protest on Wednesday and when they returned to work Thursday they were informed they had been fired.
“We are the team leaders directly under the supervisors and they informed us last night that we could not go back to work and the boss said we were fired,” one employee told the station.
An attorney for Bradley Coatings said in a statement that the employees were told they would “need to show up for work (on Thursday) or they would be terminated” because of the “time-sensitive” job they were assigned to. The statement contended that the firings had nothing to do with politics.
Encore Boat Builders LLC, based out of Lexington, S.C., had 21 workers who didn’t show up for work Thursday. WLTX-TV reported they were told not to participate in the demonstrations or face termination and when they failed to show up, the company followed through on its threat.
Six staff members at a Bonita Springs, Fla. daycare quit, Rev. Jeremy Walker, who runs the day care, told NBC 2. However, two workers said they were fired for wanting to join the protest, while four others claim they resigned after the others two were fired.
Several students also participated in Thursday’s protest. There were no immediate estimates of how many students stayed home in many cities. Many student absences may not be excused, and some people who skipped work will lose a day’s pay or perhaps even their jobs. But organizers and participants argued the cause was worth it.
Marcela Ardaya-Vargas, who is from Bolivia and now lives in Falls Church, Virginia, pulled her son out of school to take him to a march in Washington.
“When he asked why he wasn’t going to school, I told him because today he was going to learn about immigration,” she said, adding: “Our job as citizens is to unite with our brothers and sisters.”
Carmen Solis, a Mexico-born U.S. citizen, took the day off from work as a project manager and brought her two children to a rally in Chicago.
“I feel like our community is going to be racially profiled and harassed,” she said of Trump’s immigration policies. “It’s very upsetting. People like to take out their anger on the immigrants, but employers are making profits off of them. ”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.