Local businesses close, students protest for ‘Day Without Immigrants’
Video of Paso Robles High School protest held Feb. 16. Credit: Facebook user Aaliyah Lewis
Local activism part of national protest
–A group of Paso Robles High School students staged a protest at noon Thursday in support of “a day without immigrants.” The movement is a national grassroots protest encouraging immigrants to stay away from work and out of school for the day.
The movement was organized in response to the Trump Administration’s immigration policies. Several local businesses closed Thursday in support of the movement.
Panolivo Family Bistro, a popular downtown Paso Robles eatery, closed for the day. Panolivo owner Didier Cop said, “We have several immigrants working in the restaurant and there is no way we can supply a good level of services without the workers.” Cop said the restaurant employees were given the day off, “I think that somewhere we are all immigrants to some degree and this is something to remember. “
Vega Insurance and Tax Service, announced on their Facebook page that both their Paso Robles and Santa Maria offices “will be closed tomorrow in participation off ‘Day without Immigrants ‘ protest, I encourage all of us to participate.”
The Miramar Western Store on Spring Street in Paso Robles also posted a sign that they are closed in support of a day without immigrants. Several other local businesses are closed today, but it is not clear that all of them closed in support of the movement.
The owner of Anything Goes Shipping Center, Alice Maina, said she only heard about the protest “this morning.” Maina said, “I’m an immigrant and an American citizen. If I had known about this movement I would also have closed.”
Paso Joint Unified School District Public Information Officer, Martha Clayton, said, “We did notice a slight increase in our student absenteeism today.” No exact number was available.
In a statement regarding the high school protest Clayton said, “A small group of PRHS students gathered during their lunch break today in protest of the current national immigration issues. Students have the right to express their views about issues that are important to them. Our role is to make sure that all students, regardless of their views, are safe and secure. School and district staff were on hand to help ensure the safety of the entire student body. The protest was student-organized. Participation was voluntary and was not encouraged by school staff. We are committed to maintaining PRHS as a welcoming place for all of its students and families.”