Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Immigrant March had little effect on Arizona businesses

Immigration March Had Little Impact on Valley Business

Stephanie Paterik
The Arizona Republic
May. 2, 2007 12:00 AM

Steve Chucri, president and chief executive officer of the Arizona Restaurant and Hospitality Association, hadn't heard from any of his 2,000 members as of noon Tuesday. He called a handful to see if the march was affecting business, and the answer was "no."

"We are not seeing any abnormality in the restaurant and food business," he said. "We're pleased about that."

He speculated on why this march made a smaller splash.

"Our industry has never endorsed or supported walkouts. We believe working with elected officials in Washington is the smarter, more appropriate and hopefully, at the end of the day, more productive route. I have heard from many employees throughout the state that although they believe strongly in this issue, the walkout didn't serve the purpose they originally thought it would," Chucri said.

Denny Durbin closed his Phoenix restaurant, Padre's Modern Mexican Cuisine, on the day of last May's rally. This time, he decided to stay open because just one of his employees planned to attend.

"We have one guy who thinks he's the general of this march," Durbin said. "He's been talking about it for six weeks. He's adamant, he's excited, he's pumped. He lives for this stuff."

Durbin said last year's protesters generated a lot of momentum. Now that the national spotlight is shining on immigration reform, they are pleased, and some are stepping back to watch the debate play out in Congress.

"Last year, it was the first time, it was a big deal, a big issue, and they made a pretty good point," he said. "People are pretty happy with all the attention it's got. This year, they don't feel it will make as strong of a statement."


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