Bay Ridge bodega shuts down for hour in protest of travel ban

April 25, 2018 Jaime DeJesus
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Borough President Eric Adams and Councilmember Justin Brannan gathered with area residents and representatives of three local organizations, the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, Muslims Giving Back and the Pakistani and American Youth Society on Tuesday, April 24 outside the 80th Street Deli, 8014 Fifth Avenue, to help the Yemeni-owned bodega shut down for an hour in solidarity with the fight against the Trump administration’s Muslim travel ban.

The gathering came in response to at-that-time-upcoming oral arguments for and against Trump v. Hawaii, a case in front of the United States Supreme Court that will decide the legality of the Trump administration’s executive order banning immigration from several Muslim-majority countries, including Yemen. There are an estimated 4,000-6,000 small businesses owned by Yemeni-Americans living in New York City, according to Adams.

“Many of the businesses, particularly in the areas of Bay Ridge and Downtown Brooklyn, are owned by Muslim-American immigrants and it’s our goal to show the power of this community and how much they contribute to everyday life here,” Adams said. “As a symbol of that, all across the borough, [members of] Yemeni communities will be closing their stores to show their outrage over this ban.”

Adams contended that local residents are being affected by the ban as families have been separated.


“The mother of Mr. Shamsan Allahabi [the store owner] after going through the process and following the rules, was caught up in a holding pattern and not allowed to come here. After being en route to America, she was sent back,” he explained. “These families are crippled and traumatized over the devastating impact of this ban.” Among the countries impacted by the ban, which Adams said has been “in effect since December” and “is designed to be permanent,” are Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

Adams also said that between April 9 and 14,  225 people were arrested as a part of operation Keep Safe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

Brannan, who has an office right next door to the deli, stressed how important it is to stand united during times of prejudice.

“We share a wall and it’s really just a sign of how immigrants make up the fabric of our community and city,” he said. “I often think of my own three grandparents who came here from Italy. It wasn’t that long ago that people spat at them, made fun of them, the way they spoke and the food they ate. A couple of generations pass and we all start acting like we own the place. Well guess what? We’re all immigrants. We all come from the same place, somewhere else. It’s really important, in solidarity, that we come out here today to say to the community that we are all standing together.”

Allahabi’s 66-year-old mother hasn’t seen her son and grandchildren in five years.

“It’s hard that she’s not here,” he said, adding that he’s “happy to close the store” as a way of bringing attention to the situation.


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