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February 14, 2017

Philly restaurants reportedly bracing for walkout of immigrant workers this week

As the contentious political debate over immigration and sanctuary rages on, Philadelphia and other cities across the United States could experience major disruptions this week during a planned day of protest.

On Thursday, the movement known as "Un Dia Sin Immigrantes," or "A Day Without Immigrants," will encourage American immigrants to forgo working, watching the news, eating out or contributing in any way to the economy for the entire day. The action, which circulated on social media, plans to showcase the positive impact that immigrants have on communities and businesses.

Latino immigrant workers at Philly restaurants will join in the national demonstration, Billy Penn reports.

According to the web site, several restaurant owners are preparing to take a financial hit by closing their establishments or significantly altering services to support the protest:

Stephen Starr, on hearing of the plan, told Billy Penn that he would not punish or fire any workers who participated. “It’s sad that it has come to this,” he said. “These are really dedicated, hard working people who make America better. They should not have to live in fear."

Several restaurants in Midtown Village will be altering dining hours in preparation of the scheduled walkout. Graffiti Bar will be closed for the day while Harp & Crown and Double Knot will shut down for lunch to accommodate protesters. Double Knot will open at 4 p.m. and Harp & Crown open for dinner services at 5:30 p.m.

The planned demonstration marks the culmination of months of warnings from immigrants – both undocumented and documented – after Donald Trump's presidential victory. Many, including one Philly business owner, claimed that Trump's policies would have a negative effect on the restaurant industry.

South Philly Barbacoa co-owner Benjamin Miller urged fellow owners "to use our restaurants as a platform for our social ideals.”

Since taking office, Trump has threatened to strip federal funding from cities that operate under sanctuary status, including Philly, while immigration enforcement has boosted efforts to round up people living in the United States illegally.

Despite strong support of sanctuary city policies, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney is facing increasing pressure to cave in order to secure much-needed funding. The Pennsylvania Senate is also considering a bill to cut funding to sanctuary cities.