Sanctuary Restaurants Popping Up Nationwide

More than 150 restaurants nationwide have declared themselves “sanctuary restaurants.” But what does this mean?

For starters, it’s a way for small or large establishments to declare their commitment to anti-discrimination policies in response to potential immigration changes. It is a way for these businesses to ensure safety for immigrants who may face workplace mistreatment or retaliation. Many restaurants rely on immigrant staff to run operations and want to ensure fair treatment for their employees. Hate crimes, deportation threats, and fear of raids are also concerns that sanctuary restaurants are addressing.

Many of these restaurants have posted signs that ensure “a place at the table for everyone.” Others have placed signs predominantly stating that it is a “sanctuary restaurant” for both potential employees and restaurant-goers. The restaurants also offer information for legal and illegal immigrants on “knowing their rights” and how to manage an attempted raid, according to a PBS report.

About 10 percent of the U.S. labor force in the leisure and hospitality industry is comprised of immigrants. States like New York, New Jersey, California, and Florida typically employ more immigrants in the restaurant and hotel industries, whereas jobs in construction are more prevalent in southern states, according to the Pew Research Center.

While 10 percent may not seem significant at first, it could leave many hotels and restaurants scrambling to fill positions and cover shifts if the immigrant workforce was compromised. In a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, it was reported that Illinois’ annual GDP could go down $3 billion a year without immigrant staffers.

Sanctuary restaurants follow a nationwide trend of more than 200 sanctuary cities, which began forming to protect the rights of immigrants who were threatened with deportation while pursuing their ongoing immigration hearings and immigration court proceedings.