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Immigrant businesses brace for a Trump presidency

Reema Khrais Nov 9, 2016
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A bootblack polishes the shoes of a client who reads a newspaper with headlines referring to the eventual triumph of US presidential candidate Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Mexico City. The Mexican peso plunged by 7.64 percent to a record low against the dollar on Wednesday after Donald Trump's shock US election win, market data showed. YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Immigrant businesses brace for a Trump presidency

Reema Khrais Nov 9, 2016
A bootblack polishes the shoes of a client who reads a newspaper with headlines referring to the eventual triumph of US presidential candidate Donald Trump on November 9, 2016 in Mexico City. The Mexican peso plunged by 7.64 percent to a record low against the dollar on Wednesday after Donald Trump's shock US election win, market data showed. YURI CORTEZ/AFP/Getty Images
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From the very start, Donald Trump’s proposed policies on immigration helped pave his way to the White House.

His calls for mass deportations of undocumented immigrants, a wall along the Mexico-U.S. border and a ban on Muslims entering the country, were greeted enthusiastically by many of his supporters. 

But now that he has been elected, some immigrant business owners are worried.  In  2014, immigrants made up a fifth of all entrepreneurs in the U.S. and generated more than $65 billion in business activity, according to a study from The Partnership for a New American Economy. 

Mansoor Eskandari is among them. Eskandari, who operates a construction business in Chapel Hill, NC.,  was up until 2 o’clock Wednesday morning watching the election returns.

Like much of America, he wasn’t prepared for what happened.
“I was shocked,” he said, referring to Trump’s big win.  Eskandari is an Iranian immigrant who moved to the U.S. in the 1980s.
“At the same time, I’m Muslim too – so double jeopardy,” he said.

Eskandari regularly hires immigrants for his construction projects. And over the last few years, he said he’s faced a shortage of construction workers.

“If he [Trump] is going to deport people, it’s going to affect my business directly because it’s going to get worse,” he explained.

Romy Khouraki, owner of Altayebat Market, shares Eskandari’s worries. His grocery store is the oldest Middle Eastern business in Anaheim, CA. It’s located in a business district known as Little Arabia. 

“Some of our produce guys were kinda joking around the other day saying, ‘oh well, maybe there won’t be any employees here tomorrow to work,’” he said.

In December, a bullet-riddled copy of the Quran was found outside a nearby Islamic clothing store. Khouraki said his business hasn’t been the target of any attacks, but he worries Trump’s election will increase anti-Muslim sentiment.

“When 9/11 happened, someone had called in a bomb threat. We had several people call in and leave threatening voicemails,” he explained.

Khouraki’s neighbor, Nidal Hajomar, a Syrian immigrant, has a different take on Trump.

“I think he is going to be good,” said Hajomar, who owns the restaurant, Aleppo’s Kitchen.

Hajomar said he thinks Trump may help the Syria crisis more than President Obama did.

Viridiana Martinez, an undocumented immigrant and activist, said she doesn’t support Trump. But she’s not worried by his stance on immigration.

“Donald Trump is a businessman above everything,” she said, adding that she thinks much of his anti-immigrant rhetoric was designed to garner votes. 

She said politicians talk a lot, but are short on action. 

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