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The Bay Area's "Day Without Immigrants"

Josiah Luis Alderete
Demonstrators gather outside San Francisco City Hall


At his press conference today, President Trump reiterated his motivation for strictly enforcing and enhancing U.S. immigration policy.

"We’ve ordered a crackdown on 'Sanctuary Cities' that refuse to comply with federal law and that harbor criminal aliens," Trump said. "And we’ve ordered an end to the policy of catch and release on the border. No more release. No matter who you are. Release. We’ve begun a nationwide effort to remove criminal aliens, gang members, drug dealers, who pose a threat to public safety. We are saving American lives every single day. The court system has not made it easy for us."

Trump says his administration plans more legal and executive actions to “comprehensively protect our country.” But many people feel threatened by the President’s rhetoric.

Today, protesters across the nation held “A Day Without Immigrants”, shutting down regular operations of businesses. While the normally bustling Calle 24 Latino Cultural District in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood was quiet and dark,  demonstrators gathered this morning in Civic Center Plaza to express their frustrations.

Mike Gazzali, a Yemeni immigrant, owns five supermarkets in Oakland. He closed the stores today, and brought many of his 80 employees to the protest. Gazzali said he’s particularly outraged about the President’s contested executive order blocking people from seven countries, including his native Yemen, from coming into the United States.

"It affects all immigrants from all over the world," he said, "no matter where you’re from. Mexico. Any of the seven countries that the ban was put on. Japanese. Chinese. Anywhere. Everybody’s being affected the same way."

Gazzali said he expected the demonstration to be bigger. Social media posts about today’s protests encouraged students to skip school, but San Francisco and Oakland school officials reported no unusual absences or walkouts. However, the New York Times reports that was not the case in the Central Valley town of Mendota. More than half the students in that agricultural community stayed home today.

Ben was hired as Interim Executive Director of KALW in November, 2021.