NEW YORK – Corner stores around New York City and elsewhere were shut down for a short time on Tuesday by their Yemeni-American owners to protest against the U.S. travel ban, the day before the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear arguments over whether it should be upheld.
The closing of the bodegas was a shortened version of a protest the owners initiated last year.
In the Bronx, about two dozen people gathered in front of Adnan Alshabi's store, across the street from the borough's courthouse. They held signs saying, "As my neighbor, please come stand in solidarity with me and my workers." They then counted down as Alshabi pulled down the metal gate to close his business.
"This is to support our friends and families, they're stuck all over the world," said Alshabi, who added that his stores in Manhattan also were closed. "They left our country, they want to come to this country. Now they're stuck, they cannot go back, they cannot come here."
Organizers said stores in various parts of New York, as well as Virginia, Michigan and San Francisco also were among those briefly closing.
The travel ban instituted by President Donald Trump, now in its third version, indefinitely bars U.S. entry to nationals from several Muslim-majority countries — Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen — as well as those from North Korea and some government officials from Venezuela. Another Muslim-majority country, Chad, was taken off the list this month.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday, with the administration taking the stance that the president has the power to take these actions and challengers saying it is a form of discrimination based on religion, citing Trump's remarks on the campaign trail.
Supporters of the ban say it is necessary as a national security precaution, based on concerns about visa vetting in the countries involved.
Yemen has been torn apart by conflict over the past several years, with the U.S. embassy in the capital, Sana, closed in 2015. That has forced Yemenis who wanted to come to the U.S. to travel to other countries, like Djibouti or Jordan, to even apply for a visa.
A ruling from the Supreme Court is not expected until late June.
Deepti Hajela covers issues of race, ethnicity and immigration for The Associated Press. Follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dhajela. For more of her work, search for her name at https://apnews.com