NJ business closed for ‘Day Without Immigrants’: ‘We’re here to work, to make America better’

PERTH AMBOY, NJ — A New Jersey restaurant closed Thursday, as part of the nationwide strike "Day Without Immigrants," but remained open to employees who wanted to work.

An employee at Perth Amboy's Taco Express works in an empty restaurants. The business was one of many closed for "Day Without Immigrants" on Feb. 17, 2017. (PIX11)

An employee at Perth Amboy's Taco Express works in an empty restaurants. The business was one of many closed for "Day Without Immigrants" on Feb. 17, 2017. (PIX11)

The national grassroots movement has quickly gained attention through word of mouth and social media posts under the hashtag #ADayWithoutImmigrants, and seeks to protest President Donald Trump's immigration reforms as well as highlight the contributions of the immigrant community in the United States.

“We’re making a statement," said Daysi León, who owns a New Jersey business closed for the strike. "We’re trying to set a point on how it’s not just about getting money. We’re not here to steal jobs, we’re not here to commit crime. We’re here to work, to make America better.”

Taco Express, in Perth Amboy, is one of dozens, if not hundreds, of businesses closed nationwide. In addition, León owns a flower shop that is also closed.

Many of the shuttered businesses are restaurants, like León's Taco Express, and are losing money by participating.

A business in Perth Amboy is one of many closed in the "Day Without Immigrants" on Feb. 16, 2017. (PIX11)

A business in Perth Amboy is one of many closed in the "Day Without Immigrants" on Feb. 16, 2017. (PIX11)

PIX11 spoke to León during what is typically a busy time — lunch hour — and the restaurant's phone rang repeatedly.

She is losing money, and possibly customers, she said, but it's worth it.

“We wanted our voices to be heard, because otherwise we’re just going to be shadows all the time,” León said.

In addition to not turning a profit Thursday, León told employees who can't afford to miss a day's work they are welcome to help clean and restock shelves.

Creating jobs for people in the community, she says, is just one of the ways immigrants help the country.