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Bodega owners across New York City plan to close up shop from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday in protest of President Trump's travel ban
The business owners want to show how much they're a part of the fabric of a city known for its large immigrant population
A rally is planned at Brooklyn Borough Hall Thursday evening after the mass shutdown
A group of Yemeni business owners shut down their delis, grocery stores and bodegas across New York City Thursday in protest of President Donald Trump's travel ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, including the place many of the shopkeepers call home.
The mass closing started at noon and was expected to last until 8 p.m. Many were rallying at Brooklyn Borough Hall Thursday evening, waving U.S. and Yemen flags and chanting, "No ban, no wall, N-Y-C for all."
Organizers say hundreds of the stores around the city were taking part to show how much they're a part of the fabric of New York City. They say several thousand of the neighborhood stores are owned by Yemenis.
Among those participating in the shutdown is Abdulkera Yafei, who owns a store in Cobble Hill. He's been waiting for his wife and four children to arrive from Yemen after a long process for them to get green cards.
"My family is stuck in Djibouti right now," he said.
The family finally got interviews for green cards on Jan. 17, just three days before Trump was inaugurated. When Trump signed the travel ban, the family got an email telling them to check back in 90 days, said Yafei.
Yafei, who's lived in Brooklyn for 10 years and is now a citizen, says he's devastated.
Haron Zokari closed his Manhattan deli at noon, as well. He said his own wife and baby are stuck in Yemen after almost completing a four-year, green-card process.
"We are trying to stay strong," he said. "There's people there who are refugees and who are starving and running for their lives, so thank God we don't have it as bad as they do."
The bodega shutdown drew support from regular customers.
"This is for a good cause. My sandwich can wait," said Maria Lipinto, a customer at a Sunset Park store whose owner, Frank, said the closure would cost him a couple thousand dollars. He said he hasn't closed since Sandy but the rally is worth every cent he'll lose.
Another owner, Johnny Lu, added, "Money should not be more important than the rights of Americans when he puts ban on refugees, immigrants, people who make this country what it is. It's not right."
Zaid Nagi, who owns three delis in the Bronx, said the ban disrupted plans to bring his mother to the United States, where he has lived for more than 20 years. The 36-year-old married father of four said the point of the protest was to say, "We are part of this community. We are not who this order is trying to say we are."
Trump's executive order barring people hailing from Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Syria for 90 days has resulted in travelers being detained or deported from the United States. Many have been stranded in other countries.
Meanwhile, ongoing protests over Trump's policies continued in lower Manhattan Wednesday night. On Tuesday, thousands of people protested outside of Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer's apartment in Brooklyn, demanding he do more to oppose the president's actions.