‘Day Without Immigrants’ protest impacts Pasco community

Sign in the Vinny's Bakery window for 'A day without Immigrants' protest. (Feb. 16, 2017)

It was not a typical Thursday for downtown Pasco, the sidewalks empty, windows of many of the businesses noticeably dark and the ‘Closed’ sign sending more than a message of a locked door.

A line of businesses, mostly restaurants and bakeries in Pasco, closed down in support of  ‘A Day Without Immigrants’ nationwide protest. A few days ago, colorful flyers were circulating around the Tri-Cities asking the community to stay home, close down their businesses and keep kids home from school, essentially to show the President, America would be lost without immigrants.

Manager of Viera’s Bakery in Pasco, Eulogio Zarate says they decided to close to support the community.

“Our longevity depends on the community and a bunch of them had mentioned it to us, we were still undecided until yesterday afternoon, but we finally decided to do it, just to support them, like they support us,” says Zarate.

He adds hopefully with this demonstration, the Latino community can have their voices heard.

Newsradio610KONA’s Maecy Enger drove around town finding several businesses followed suit, including Atomic Foods, Mi Lindo Nayarit, and Vinny’s Bakery, each posting a sign on the door explaining their support for the protest.

One of the largest businesses to take part, Fiesta Foods, closing all five locations. The move confused dozens of customers who pulled into the parking lot, only to find the store closed. Those we spoke with called it an “inconvenience,” others say they supported the movement.

Schools were also impacted, officials at the Pasco School District saw a 24% drop in attendance district-wide on Thursday, or a 70% attendance rate to the 94% rate over the past two weeks. All total, 4,500 students were marked absent. Although, officials do add while the drop coincides with the ‘A Day Without Immigrants’ protest, they can not say it is directly connected.

Kennewick school district did not have attendance numbers available Thursday, but said that while there may have been some high school students protesting, a majority of students attended school.

Neither Kennewick nor Pasco School District had any formal walk-out protests, which was rumored to happen in the Tri-Cities and nationwide.