Dozens of businesses close, hundreds gather for “Day Without Immigrants” protest

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Thursday was a day of protest by local immigrants and the businesses they own and patronize.

It's part of a nationwide "Day Without Immigrants" demonstration against President Trump's immigration policies.

La Michocana Market on Morse Road was one of the dozens of local businesses closing its doors Thursday to send a message.

"We will be closed in support of the community” was the translation of a sign posted at Daniel Auto Sales on West Broad Street.

Variations of the same sign greeted customers at dozens of businesses across Columbus, including Mi Bandera Supermarket, owned by Miguel Pena.

"I feel that I need to support the community,” he said. “I feel that as a businessman I need to support that community."

Pena is among the business owners taking part in the "Day Without Immigrants" protest.

"If we decide not to work one or two days, the economy will be hurt here and there,” he said. “So they must know what will happen. And they must understand that this country needs people like us."

Raul Hernandez, a Mexican immigrant, was a would-be customer turned away by a closed sign Thursday. But he understands and supports the protest.

"What I hear in the streets- they are scared,” he said. “We're scared for our future. It's scary to be Hispanic and walking in the streets, and a lot of hate. It was there and now it's more, increased after this presidency."

Also Thursday, a crowd of hundreds gathered at the Statehouse echoed those fears, chanting, "Columbus is our home! Columbus is our home!"

"I know we have to protect this country,” said protester and small business owner Christian Blas. “But we have to do it in a way that doesn't create family separations."

Pena acknowledges today's protest is costing him money, but he says the cost of inaction is much greater.

"I'm supporting the community who I work with,” he said. “And that's more than any amount of money than I can lose today."

According to the non-partisan "Partnership for a New American Economy," Ohio is home to more than 480,000 immigrants.

In 2014, they contributed $4.4 billion in taxes. Their total income was $15.6 billion.

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