Oak Park mayor's eatery joins 'Day Without Immigrants' strike

Anan Abu-Taleb immigrated to United States from Palestine

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

It's difficult to know which businesses in Oak Park have decided to participate in the nationwide "A Day Without Immigrants" strike, which is closing restaurants in support of immigrants, but for one local restaurateur who is participating -- who also happens to be the mayor of Oak Park -- the issue hits close to home.

Anan Abu-Taleb is owner of Maya Del Sol, a Latin American restaurant at 144 S. Oak Park Ave. He also is a native of Palestine who immigrated to the United States in 1978.

"Some people have worked for us for 30 years, and we've see them raise their families in this country; we've seen their kids become chefs and lawyers and doctors and carpenters and construction workers – and they are very anxious," he said.

Abu-Taleb said people across the globe dream of living in the United States because of the opportunities the country affords.

"There is not one day in my life that I'm not grateful I was given the opportunity to live this American dream," Abu-Taleb said, adding that the more people in the country striving to live the American dream, the better the country becomes. "The sum of all these American dreams is what makes us a country of opportunity."

Abu-Taleb said immigrants are the backbone of the country and that the current atmosphere of fear and hate creates and alienates people unfairly.

"I think it's important for people in general to understand that these people have been contributing members in our community in many ways, and they are feeling they could be separated from their own families, from their own kids who were born here, at any moment and that's a terrible way to live their lives," he said.

Abu-Taleb, calling the immigration policies of the administration of President Donald Trump "inhumane," encouraged the nation to show empathy for those who are working for a better life.

"I'm shook up about this whole thing," he said. "It's hard to look in these people's eyes and see how afraid they are.

"I've been fortunate enough to work with immigrants and be exposed to their families. When we get to know one another and look at one another in a way that we are the same, everything changes."

Maya Del Sol is one of several dozen Chicago area restaurants that are closing for the strike.

Eater Chicago reported that celebrity Chicago chef Rick Bayless announced he is closing his restaurants – Frontera Grill, Topolobampo, Xoco, and Fonda Frontera – for the strike. The food-focused website also put out a list of known restaurants in Chicago that are closing for the day.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Mike Hanline  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 2:56 PM

I'm not overly concerned with the hiring of illegal immigrants. For one, it's not in my nature to "criminalize" someone for trying to feed his/her family by doing an honest day's work. And secondly, it's not like they're stealing good-paying jobs that the middle class relies upon (and is in desperate need of more than ever). That blame lies with automation, overseas outsourcing, and the skills gap. Also, I happen to like both Maya del Sol as a restaurant and the job that Abu-Taleb is doing as mayor (or whatever the position is being call these days). You should too--you're one of the few persons I see commenting on here who is on board with the redevelopment of downtown Oak Park (another area where we agree), and Abu-Taleb appears to be the driving force behind that.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 11:55 AM

Since we agree that our mayor is a hypocrite when it comes to following the law, he should resign. Or Oak Park can become a pick and choose the law community, where we can choose to not pay fines, fees and property taxes.

Mike Hanline  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 11:28 AM

People hiring illegals shouldn't hold federal government positions either, but they do...we are a nation of hypocrites.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 10:24 AM

People would only be "anxious" if they were here illegally. People hiring illegals should not be the mayor of the town.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: February 17th, 2017 12:51 AM

Is he paying his employees the living wage of $15.00 an hour.

Kathy Capone from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 4:59 PM

Thank you, Maya del Sol. You make me proud to live in Oak Park.

Christine Vernon  

Posted: February 16th, 2017 4:25 PM

So good to read these comments and observations by our leader, the President of our Village, Mayor Anan. Thank you. So happy that immigrants were making their presence felt here, in Downtown Chicago and around the Nation today. The hard work they do, similar to the hard work many of us saw our parents and grandparents did so that we could have a better life. Our country is rich because of the beautiful tapestry of diversity. I can't imagine living in any other kind of environment.

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