Local Hispanic Businesses Feeling Pinch

Keith Walker, Potomac News, August 15, 2007

Area Hispanic business owners said Tuesday that they have seen as much as a 40 percent drop in business since the county passed a resolution aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration.

Ruben Andrade hasn’t lost quite that much, but said people are not going out as much out of fear that they will be stopped by police.

“My sales at Sabor Latino—normally I was doing about $110,000 a month, now it dropped to about $80,000,” said Andrade, who owns Sabor Latino in Dale City, Tipicos Dona in Woodbridge, Mi Casita in Manassas and East Coast Cafe in Woodbridge as well as Casa Maria in Herndon.

Andrade and about 18 other mainly Hispanic business owners held a press conference Tuesday at East Coast Cafe in Marumsco Plaza to talk about the resolution’s affect on business and the immigrant community.

The Prince William Board of County Supervisors passed the resolution on July 10 that directed the police department to arrange with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to train Prince William police officers to enforce immigration law and directed county staff to determine which services could be denied to illegal immigrants.

Andrade, a former illegal-immigrant who came to the United States from El Salvador in 1982, said that if an anti-illegal immigration resolution is passed, he thinks legal as well as illegal members of the Hispanic community would be targeted.

“Are they going to stop a European driving in the street? They won’t do it. You think they will stop the Chinese?” he said.

Supervisor John T. Stirrup, R-Gainesville, introduced the resolution and has always said that it is not aimed at legal immigrants.

“Regardless of who you are or what your background and your ethnicity is, if you’re here legally you have absolutely nothing to be concerned about,” he said.

Carlos Aragon, who owns Radio Fiesta 1480, said he hasn’t seen a drop in advertising, but expects that it will come as area businesses show less profit.

“As soon as they feel the pinch of no income coming, that’s how it’s going to be,” said the 56-year-old, who legally came to the United States 37 years ago.

Aragon said he has heard that legal and illegal immigrants who feel intimated by the resolution are already leaving the county.

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