GENEVA – The Little Traveler, located at 404 S. Third St. in Geneva, is participating in the movement “A Day Without Immigrants” Feb. 16, by having all the company’s immigrant workers be paid their normal wage whether they come to work or not.
Owner Michael Simon announced the plan via a Facebook post, noting that his own grandparents “were immigrants to this country, coming here to escape persecution.”
“You may have read that today is ‘A Day Without Immigrants’ and immigrants throughout the U.S. will be staying home from school, from work, and not shopping or dining out today as a way to show their impact on our society,” his Facebook post stated. “As a business that employs many wonderful people who were not born in the U.S., we fully support this movement.”
The national boycott by immigrants was organized in response to President Donald Trump's crackdown on immigration. The boycott calls for immigrants not to go to work, to avoid spending money and not to send their children to school.
Simon's Facebook posting also notes that the store may not look as clean as it normally does, “for many of the people who work ‘behind the scenes’ to keep us going are immigrants, and they may not be on duty today.”
The Atrium Cafe in The Little Traveler might not be open today – but if it is – the service “may be slower than usual, for many of the wonderful people who run our restaurant were not born in the U.S.,” the Facebook posting states.
The store will donate 10 percent of the day’s revenues to the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, “to show our support for the immigrants who are so vital to our country,” the Facebook posting states.
Artemio Arreola, political director of the Chicago-based coalition, said he was happy to hear of The Little Traveler’s support.
“My organization is a leading organization in the state of Illinois to fight for immigrants’ rights,” Arreola said. “I’m glad they did it. … It’s great for the support. A lot of businesses are doing it. A lot of people in the community are supporting [it]. We have to continue to show our nation we are a nation of immigrants, and we want to show just of a little bit of how we are part of a growing economy.”
Arreola said his organization is always countering misunderstandings about today’s immigrants – such as a common misconception that 90 percent of them do not pay taxes.
“That is completely wrong. Ask any employer, before they get paid, the taxes are taken out. And anything they buy, they pay taxes,” Arreola said. “It is absolutely not true that immigrants are not paying taxes.”
He said the organization also must counter claims that immigrants abuse public services.
“When you go asking for any service, they ask for identification,” Arreola said. “If they don’t have documents, how [can they] get benefits? This is logic.”
Arreola said the movement “A Day Without Immigrants” is peaceful and not intended to hurt the country or the economy. Instead, he said, it is to show how immigrants contribute to and strengthen the economy – and to show the value of their impact.
“We show you today how we contribute to the economy,” Arreola said. “This is one day. This is really what we want to show, the image we want to build. This is our home, too. We live here. … And we came here … to look for opportunities, the same as 100 years ago.”
More information about the organization is available by visiting www.icirr.org.