Austin businesses to close Thursday for 'A Day Without Immigrants'

Austin has one of the highest immigrant populations in the country, according to Pew Research, and Thursday some local businesses will be closed to show just how much they mean to Central Texas.

But local businesses participating in what’s being billed as “A Day Without Immigrants” are taking some heat on social media.

One customer of the Morelia Mexican Grill wrote on their Facebook page that they closing for the day "will forever keep me and my family from continuing to patronize your business." And another chimed in, "You should stay closed forever."

But the owners of this local chain say they're standing up for what they believe. Gabriel Plata, general manager of their Round rock restaurant says, “If you stand for something, whatever your ideology is, you have to stand up for it."

The Morelia Mexican Grills say they decided to participate in "A Day Without Immigrants" after recent raids targeting criminal aliens also caught innocent immigrants. Plata says, “It's like dropping a bomb in the city and expecting to take out one bad guy. But what happens to the rest of the bystanders that were around it? You know?"

The sentiment brings back memories of 2006 when hundreds took to the streets here in Austin to protest a proposal to make being an undocumented immigrant a felony.

Paul Castillo runs the Taqueria Arandinas in North Austin. They will also close tomorrow.

He says, "It's to show support to our Latino community here, our Hispanic community. It's to let them know we are with them. We support our people." Castillo adds, “We have a lot of immigrants living here, working here. We have all these people living here with their families paying taxes, coming to our business, buying our products."

The restaurant appeared to be the only business in their shopping center to put up signs announcing they would be closed. But others in the center said their hands are tied. They're part of national chains and can only do what's approved by the home office.

It's really not clear how many local businesses will actually close tomorrow for this protest. No one's coordinating it. People are just hearing about it on social media and deciding for themselves whether they should join in.