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Restaurant stance draws ire, backing

Red signs announce the Thursday closure of Baldwin Saloon for participation in a  “Day Without Immigrants.”

Photo by Mark Gibson
Red signs announce the Thursday closure of Baldwin Saloon for participation in a “Day Without Immigrants.”

The Baldwin Saloon joined other restaurants across the U.S. in being closed Thursday in support of the national “Day Without Immigrants” protest, drawing both ire and applause on social media.

Juanita’s Market closed at 3 p.m. Thursday, leaving messages in Spanish and English on its doors saying it would close in support of a Day Without Immigrants.

La Michoacana Mexican Store stayed open, but after its decision to stay open was noted on Facebook and also drew considerable comment, it ended up posting a statement on its Facebook page explaining why.

“Every brother human of ours deserves a better life and we applaud to that but we still need to keep our business open,” the post read. “We also have a lot of high school kids that come in for lunch and it wouldn't be fair to them if they walked all that way and returned empty handed and [their] lunch time [was] over.”

The Tijuana Mexican Restaurant has been closed for at least a week. No signage was left on the door to indicate why.

Casa el Mirador was also closed Thursday, but it was because the power was out, according to a post on its Facebook page.

Ixtapa Mexican Restaurant was open, while a Facebook commenter noted a local taco truck was closed.

The “Day Without Immigrants” protest sprung up through social media, without the backing of a national organization, and is intended to show what a day without immigrants would be like and to protest against President Donald Trump’s policies toward immigrants.

Taped to the door of the Baldwin was a note signed by owner Mark Linebarger. It stated, “We will be closed today because my help want to show their support of our fellow workers in this country. I’m sorry that we were not open to serve you today and for any inconvenience that it may have caused you. I honor my help wishes, for I honor them. For they are good people, good neighbors and good friends.”

Linebarger could not be reached for comment.

An employee of the Baldwin posted the sign in a local Facebook page, The Dalles Happenings, and it quickly drew comment. Six hours later, the employee shut down comments on the post, saying, “sorry folks, show’s over.”

Commentary was strongly divided. In one part of the thread, a commenter said, “This will cost the Baldwin [money] long term. Hope it was worth it.”

Another commenter replied in support of the Baldwin, saying, “I love them all the more!!!”

Some said The Dalles and Hood River rely on illegal immigrants for harvest, while another woman disagreed, saying it was her job during harvest to ensure workers had proper paperwork to prove they were legally in the country.

The post stirred debate on the expense of becoming a legal citizen, and the cost to American taxpayers of illegal immigrants.

One commenter urged that it not be about race, and another replied, “Yes, it is not about your color — it is about whether you entered legally or whether you slipped into the country illegally...” Another noted, “What about all of us who are legal? ...who had to wait and wait and wait before we could get a green card, and then had to wait 5 years before we could apply for citizenship.”

“Exactly,” another agreed. “Others think because it's expensive it takes awhile [so] being illegal is ok.”

Another commenter said of the reaction to both the Baldwin and La Michoacana, “So people are mad because businesses closed and people are mad because businesses stayed open. No win situation.”

Another commenter noted, “Curious why so many think this is a support of illegals. It's a stance on how impactful immigrants are to our nation.”

Sandra Silva works for Wasco County and stayed home Thursday. She said she knew about 20 others in The Dalles who also stayed home, and over 100 people who stayed home in Hood River.

She stayed home as a show of solidarity and peaceful protest. She said she wanted to “say something and be heard, but I’m not anti-America or anti-authority.” Her husband is a city police officer.

She said, “I was born here. I love both cultures. It’s time for unity. But I surely do not support a ban, or wall or anything based on fear, suspicion or stereotypes. People need to be judged on the quality of their character, not the color of their skin.”

She said there are tensions, concerns and fear in the Mexican community. “We don’t know what will happen.”

A “Know Your Rights” seminar is set for 6 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 22, at Columbia Gorge Community College lecture hall (building 2, third floor).

An immigration attorney will be addressing concerns and sharing information about rights that everyone in the United States holds. There will also be an explanation of a federal law that protects students.


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