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Shannon Wynne working the Lark on the Park host stand? Here’s why

Posted 8:02pm on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017

This “Day Without Immigrants” had something previous immigrant worker strikes lacked.

This time, business owners chimed in, supporting and defending their workers, and stood up for keeping them at a time when presidential orders threaten legal immigrants along with those here unlawfully.

“I didn’t know about it until yesterday, but I went in and worked as the host today,” said Dallas restaurateur Shannon Wynne. He seated diners at lunch Thursday at Lark on the Park, explained the day’s limited menu and gave out a letter.

His message: “Call your congressmen and tell them life in the USA does not work well without letting immigrants work.”

Only one diner told him, “Get this flier off my table!”

“I think it’s hard for people who don’t have a mother, father, sister, brother or friend in this situation to understand,” Wynne said.

“This has nothing to do with illegal immigration. It has to do with the pushback in general against immigration. There is nobody in the restaurant community who is not affected.”

Most news coverage involves the presidential executive order banning or suspending travel from seven countries, a directive President Donald J. Trump himself originally described as a “Muslim ban.”

But the order also opened the door for a crackdown on legal immigrants with perfectly valid U.S. visas or residency “green cards,” allowing 4 million legal Texas residents to be detained and potentially deported if arrested for any legal violation worse than overparking.

On the campaign trail, Trump called for a complete halt to immigration. His original presidential order, soon to be revised, barred fully vetted legal American residents, including scientists and college professors.

If Thursday really had been a day without an immigrant, Texas would have lost between one-fourth and one-third of our economic base. We would have gone without doctors, nurses, teachers, computer analysts, businesses and workers, not to mention shoppers and patrons.

“Immigration is the entire restaurant industry,” Wynne said.

“Without it, we wouldn’t have food to cook, or anybody to plate it … When I found out yesterday, we had to make a decision pretty quick. We decided to go with our workers and support this peaceful protest.”

Nearly half of restaurant chefs are immigrants, according to the National Restaurant Association. Immigrants own nearly one-third of restaurants and hotels.

In Austin, Texas Restaurant Association spokesperson Anna Tauzin declined to comment on the walkout but said: “Restaurants welcome everyone. Legal immigrants are an important part of the restaurant family.”

If only we could have a day without a tweet.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @EatsBeat. His column appears Wednesdays in Life & Arts and Fridays in DFW.com.

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