Jackson Heights businesses affected by Immigration fears
by Mark Garzon
Apr 11, 2017 | 1710 views | 2 2 comments | 125 125 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Patricia Salazar in her 82nd Street shop.
Patricia Salazar in her 82nd Street shop.
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Jackson Heights is home to numerous businesses that cater to the neighborhood's large immigrant population.

However, the recent political climate regarding immigration has created fear among its residents, leading many businesses to experience a decrease in sales.

“People started noticing their sales were slow in January, and by February we had the same report,” said Leslie Ramos, executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership.

Ramos, who works with business owners around 82nd Street, said they had reported a 20 to 30 percent decrease in sales when compared to prior years. She explained this was caused by residents who began saving money after the election last November.

“They want to save money out of the fear of the unknown, whether that means a family member may be affected by an immigration policy or they themselves will be impacted,” said Ramos. “They want to save because they know things might be more financially difficult down the road.”

Glenn Mirchandani, owner of Devisons Jewelers II, said his business had slowed down in the past few months.

“The last thing they want to do is buy gold, he said.

Mirchandani, who has been in business for 27 years, said customers were not spending as much as they used to, even on holidays when jewelry is a popular gift item.

“Valentine’s Day was bad compared to the last few years,” he said.

The lack of sales has led Mirchandani to slow down inventory purchases and instead focus on selling his current jewelry stock.

Mirchandani felt rumors of ICE’s presence in the area and increased news coverage on immigration has caused people to fear going out at the risk of being deported, which has led to less customers and emptier streets.

Irma Serrano, who sells all natural skin products door to door, said rumors were constantly circulating in the neighborhood through word of mouth and social media sites such as Facebook.

She explained that although they were mostly untrue, people felt too afraid to risk themselves and instead chose to avoid certain areas.

“They’re just rumors but they feel real,” she said. “It hurts people emotionally and financially. Some people can’t even sleep because of the situation.”

According to, Serrano, many of her clients stopped making purchases recently in order to save money due to their concerns about immigration. Due to poor sales, she has started considering a new business venture.

“I just have to find another alternative and keep moving,” she said.

Patricia Salazar, a boutique store owner, said many of her customers are trying to save money and instead purchase important documents in case of an emergency.

“They have only two alternatives, save or spend money on documents,” said Salazar. “So they have very little money to spend on other things.”

She explained many people felt exhausted by the situation.

“Many people are choosing to leave so they don’t have to endure that kind of stress,” she said.

According to Salazar, people have also taken advantage of the situation in the area in order to make money. She explained some people began offering different services to immigrants, such as contacting family members in case of deportation or documenting their final requests for a fee.

“There are some people who are opportunists and take advantage of the residents in this area, and it’s sad to see them do that to their own people,” she said.

Salazar, who has been in business for 11 years, said her store had been affected by the decrease in sales. She explained she was no longer purchasing inventory and considering starting a new business elsewhere or in her home country of Bolivia.

“I can’t stay here If business is bad, so I have to consider my options,” she said.
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June 26, 2017
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Jessica Gomez-Acevedo
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June 23, 2017
Great article!