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Immigrant business owners in Kansas City stand with others around country by shutting down for day

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Dozens of businesses across the metro closed their doors Thursday to support “A Day Without Immigrants” – a nationwide movement to protest President Donald Trump's immigration policies.

Loyal customers showed up at Panderia de las Americas on Southwest Boulevard only to find the front door locked and a message posted outside that read: #ImmigrantsMakeAmericaGreat.

It's a bakery Luis Hernandez has dreamed of owning since he was a little boy, but growing up in Mexico City, he said his chances of making his dream a reality were slim to none.

“When we are in Mexico, the opportunities are less,” he explained. “So you don`t have the same liberties to have good things.”

It's a big reason why he moved to America a decade ago and he's never looked back. He’s run his successful business for the past four years and on Thursday, closed its doors in solidarity with his fellow immigrants.

“I closed today because I try to help the community, to help everybody listen to the immigrants,” he said. “I think it`s important the government knows that immigrants are working hard.”

The shutdown is part of a nationwide movement dubbed "A Day Without Immigrants."

“The four flags is because I have four immigrants in my business,” Hernandez explained of flag photos he posted outside his shop. “So each flag is for each employee. I have a baker who is from Guatemala, a delivery [man] from Cuba, I’m from Mexico and I have a cashier from Honduras.”

Instead of working, they joined a rally in downtown Kansas City alongside hundreds of other foreign-born workers.

The boycott aims to show how important immigrants are to America’s economy, as well as to protest President Trump’s efforts to ramp up deportation of illegal immigrants, build a wall at the Mexican border and use extreme vetting on immigrants from select countries.

“They’re concerned about that they don’t know what the future is for them,” Hernandez said. “They have a lot of questions. Some people are scared.”

They are concerns Hernandez hopes politicians acknowledge, and an American dream he said every immigrant is striving for.

“They just come to try to get a better life for them, for their families,” he said. “They`re working hard and I think everybody makes America great.”

Thursday’s rally outside City Hall was mostly peaceful, but police did arrest three people for different minor offenses, including spitting on an officer and blocking the street.