Why Restaurants are Proclaiming their Businesses as a “Sanctuary” to Immigrants

Sanctuary Restaurant Signage | Credit: Paul Sancya/AP Photo

Sanctuary Restaurant Signage | Credit: Paul Sancya/AP Photo

As new immigration policies sweep the nation, one of the sectors most impacted by these changes are restaurants.

The industry is immigrant-heavy, roughly 12 million workers in the industry are immigrants. So in an effort to protect staff, restaurant businesses are seeking “sanctuary” status.

“First inspired by churches, the label is something cities and other public entities have sought to offer local protections to immigrants living in the U.S. illegally, whether it's barring police from asking citizens about immigration status or refusing to cooperate with federal agents,” writes “ABC News.”

So far there are 80 restaurants, many of which in major cities like New York, Detroit, Boston, and others, that are pronouncing their establishments as sanctuary status.

This is more of a symbolic movement, since restaurants are subjected to workplace law and regulations.

But this movement continues to gain momentum after President Donald Trump signed executive orders last week to jumpstart the construction of the wall, punish cities that proclaim to be sanctuaries for immigrants, and barr visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Restaurants participating are promoting messages of diversity.

For example, the owner at Detroit's Russell Street Deli has a sign that says "SANCTUARY RESTAURANT, a place at the table for everyone” and is making It clear that if you don’t accept this, you don’t have to eat at his deli.

"I have this one little place where I get to decide how people treat each other," said Ben Hall, owner of Russell Street Deli. "If someone has the need to insult someone ... then they don't get to participate. I've told them, 'There's another diner next door.'"

Many establishments are adopting these policies and making a statement to help their staff feel safe and supported in this uncertain time.

While some restaurants are combating the Trump administration and what they see has discrimination against immigrants, some groups are in support of an immigration overhaul.

“The National Restaurant Association, which represents roughly 500,000 businesses, is instead pushing for an immigration overhaul, including an updated verification system that confirms employees' eligibility to work in the country legally. Association Senior Vice President Steve Danon said the organization "is looking forward to working with the Trump administration" on ways to make verification "easier and more cost-efficient,” writes “ABC News.”

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