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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

A Day Without Hispanics Hits West Michigan

Mariano Avila

If your favorite taco joint is closed today or half of your Hispanic employees don’t show up to work, it’s because they’re on a national strike against mass deportations and the current administration’s immigration policy. I talked to two local women. First, is Idalia Tinoco, she owns a chicken joint off 28th Street called “La Casa del Pollo Loco,” which today is closed.

[Tinoco in Spanish]  “The purpose is to make clear all that we contribute to this country.”

Idalia and her staff will all stay home for the day, but she says it’s more involved than just time off.

[Tinoco in Spanish] “So it’s no buying, no consuming anything and not going out even to school.”

Meanwhile, Mercedes Lopez Duran owns “El Granjero Mexican Grill.” When her staff told her they would strike, she says she had to bargain with them.

[Lopez in Spanish] “I told them, I want to support you, but support me too. I have debts from remodeling and it would have an impact if we didn’t work.”

When I talked to her yesterday, her plan was to only open part of the day.

[Lopez in Spanish] “We all agreed. We’re good. We’ll work the two scheduled events. We’ll open early, as usual, but we’ll close early and go to the march.”

But as we aired the story this morning, I saw a text from her daughter saying that pressure had mounted and they decided to close after all. Word on the web is there’s a march at 5 p.m. that will end at Rosa Parks Circle. But all this is just a dress rehearsal. A much larger strike is scheduled for May 1.

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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