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'Day Without Immigrants' impacts local schools, restaurants

By AccessWDUN Staff
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Immigrants living in the United States not only protested and boycotted in large cities Thursday, but they participated in a 'Day Without Immigrants' in small towns and communities, as well.
 
The purpose of the day-long "strike" was to show the impact immigrants have on daily operations in the United States.
 
Both the Gainesville City and Hall County School systems reported high absenteeism among the Hispanic student population.
 
In Gainesville, the district had 2,295 absences with Hispanic students making up 90-percent of those out of school. Asian students made up nine of those absences.
 
"Compared to our total enrollment of 8,011, approximately one-fourth of our Hispanic student population was absent today," said school system spokeswoman Lynn Jones in an email.  "On Wednesday, February 15th, the district's total number of absences was 406 representing 5-percent of the total number of students absent on that date."
 
The Hall County School District currently has an enrollment of 27,055 students; 11,524 are Hispanic, according to system spokesman Gordon Higgins.

"Today the district reports 5,386 students absences, of which 4,183 are Hispanic," Gordon said via email.

As far as making up work that was missed, Superintendent Will Schofield said via email that process would be handled on the school and classroom level.

"Even when students are suspended from school, we often seek to help them keep up with their work so they can be academically successful," Schofield wrote. "Certainly, teachers will have to do some backfilling if 60% of their class was absent.  Doing anything else would not benefit anyone."

The school districts did not say if students from other immigrant populations were out of school for the day. 

 

Restaurant owner: "Either decision...we were going to make somebody mad"

Senor Fiesta Mexican Restaurant was one restaurant that decided to close its doors for the day.

Uriel Arellano, the General Manager of Senor Fiesta #2, said in a phone interview with AccessWDUN that the decision to close the restaurant on Jesse Jewell Parkway was not made lightly.

"Either decision we would have taken, whether we opened or whether we closed, we were going to make somebody mad. I just felt what was right to do was to support our community, which is the Latino community," said Arellano. 

He said he had received a few angry phone calls from customers upset about the closure. 

"Then, again, Hispanic people were saying if we opened, they wouldn't support us any more," Arellano said. 

Arellano said most of his staff members felt strongly about participating in the 'Day Without Immigrants' so he wanted to support them, as well. 

"I can't force them to work," Arellano said. "Even if I had wanted to, I couldn't have opened with just one or two staff members."

Arellano said his hope is that people across the community and the country can unify.

"We hope this never happens again. We hope something gets fixed," Arellano said. "We're all human beings - we're all children of God - we don't have a label."

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Business News, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: protests, Day Without Immigrants, Hispanic population, Latino businesses, school absenteeism
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