Bodega Ghost-town: Hundreds of Deli Owners Protest Trump’s Immigration Policy
by David Greene
Bodegas and delis around the city shut for eight-hours, as a silent protest to President Donald Trump’s “temporary” immigration ban that has so far detained or prevented hundreds of visitors and immigrants from other countries from coming to America.
The protest began at 12 noon on Thursday, February 2, many headed to a massive rally at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall, organized by the Yemeni-American community, a rally attended by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Public Advocate Letitia James and City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
In Norwood and Bedford Park– where every other business seems to be a deli or grocery, the impact was huge to residents and visitors to those communities, surprised to see their favorite stores closed.
Abdul Razak Al-Kabili, 42, owner of the Smoke Shop at 3200 Bainbridge Avenue, was busy pulling down the roll-down gates to his business on East 207 Street in Norwood.
A 26 year resident of the Bronx, Al-Kabili explained, “I had some friends stuck at the airport, one… can’t come in yet, but he’s trying to come in but he’s afraid he’ll get stuck at the airport and they’ll turn him back.”
His friend who was stopped in Egypt, returned to Yemen without a fight.
At the same time Al-Kabili’s brother was busy shutting the K & M Deli and Mini Market on East 207 Street, before the two would travel together to the rally in Brooklyn.
Even the M & G Bus Stop Deli on East 206 Street was closed, the owner of that deli garnered some unwanted media attention in 2015, when his 10 year-old son was assaulted by an irate customer.
Ibrahem Alqushi of Manhattan was visiting his uncles store, the Bedford Park Deli of East 202 Street. Alqushi said of the protest, “The Yemenese people are helping everyone today, we had a bunch of family members that were stranded in other nations that were not their own.”
Alqushi noted that his dad would also be closing his deli on East 180 Street, before he continued, “There all coming from other nations, trying to get into America for a better life, because in Yemen right now, there’s a lot of problems, a lot of bombings. A lot of people losing their homes.”
Alqushi added, “America all began for everyone to be free for their religious beliefs and to come and make a living and now Donald Trump is trying to change everything… with all this craziness that is going on.”
Samanta Figueroa, a Hull Avenue resident was standing outside her favorite deli, unaware of the protest. Figueroa recalled, “They make beautiful sandwiches here, so I didn’t know why they were closed.”
Figueroa then sympathized, adding, “It matters because other people want to come here to study and they can’t. This is so sad, especially for the families and what about their kids?”
Sounding more like a politician from another era, Figueroa added, “It’s sad that they can’t come to a conclusion that everyone can be comfortable with.”