For the first time since 2010 when Maria Guadalupe Betancourt opened her Mendoza’s Restaurant on San Jose’s McKee Road, she will close its doors for a day on May 1.
On Monday, the Mexican immigrant and her staff of 40 — wearing customized white T-shirts printed with phrases such as “Black Lives Matter” and “No human is illegal” — will join hundreds of thousands of people nationwide in massive May Day demonstrations denouncing the Trump administration’s stringent immigration policies.
With demonstrations and strikes planned across the Bay Area — including an ICE protest in San Francisco, a shutdown of the Port of Oakland, employee walkouts at some of Silicon Valley’s tech giants and at dozens of schools — the protests will likely rival the magnitude of the historic May Day rallies of 2006, when millions of people across the U.S. took to the streets demanding federal immigration reform.
“We as organizers see May 1 as a continuum of the campaigns that have been happening year-round to protect our communities,” said Sagnicthe Salazar, an organizer with Oakland Sin Fronteras and the Xicana Moratorium Coalition.
Betancourt said she’s closing the restaurant as a show of solidarity. The 48-year-old was hired as a cook at another Mendoza’s location 20 years ago after immigrating to San Jose from Michoacán, Mexico.
“This country would be nothing without immigrants,” said Betancourt. “That’s the way it is, even if they don’t want to recognize it. Even if they treat us like criminals, the reality is that we’re not. We come to work.”
Alicia Gallegos, Betancourt’s niece and manager of the restaurant, said participating in the demonstrations is a “social and moral duty.” The family plans to carpool with its employees to Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose on Monday, where an estimated 10,000 people are expected to rally before marching to the Arena Greens along North Autumn and West Santa Clara streets.
“As Latinos we’re more united right now,” Gallegos said. “We want to make change, and the only thing we ask for is respect for our rights. We’re here contributing to this country, and the only thing we want is to move our families forward.”
Building on momentum from the March for Science, the Women’s March on Washington and other historic rallies challenging Trump administration policies, organizers said they expect Monday’s demonstrations to bring together people of all backgrounds.
“This administration has brought together more people as allies,” said Maria Marroquín, executive director of the Day Worker Center of Mountain View, explaining that the 2006 rallies drew mostly Latinos. “This administration has seen a lot of legal losses lately, and little by little, they need to notice and accept that we are the people and we have the power.”
The Day Worker Center is among dozens of businesses and organizations throughout the Bay Area expected to close for the day, adding a new…