Hispanic businesses take hit amid ICE crackdowns

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Latino entrepreneurs around the metro says fears of an immigration crackdown are putting a damper on business, as more of their customers are less likely to be out in public.

At Johnson County Community College, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is concerned about the business impact of immigration policy changes.

The Hispanic Chamber is teaching at-risk Latino high schoolers how to start their own enterprises at a four-day business boot camp.

The chamber claims Latino-owned businesses are growing at a rate of more than 40 percent in this country, becoming a large component of the economy.

But in the wake of targeted immigration enforcement by federal agents this month, some Hispanic businesses say they're noticing a difference, with more Spanish-speaking customers staying home or keeping a low profile.

"Restaurants and community gatherings are suffering for customers," said Edgar Galicia, director of the Central Avenue Betterment Association. "Customers are not coming out. They are not visiting; they are not using their services or buying their products in their regular ways."

There has been talk that some Hispanic businesses may not open Thursday to show the community just how important they are to the economy. But business owners in both Kansas and Missouri told FOX 4 they plan to be open.

Some say closing businesses just hurts Latinos even more. They say their real impact may be felt if all Spanish-speaking people stop spending their money.