President Donald Trump’s proposed immigration overhaul is hurting business owners in the East Bay.
Car dealers say sales are dropping fast because potential customers fear they’ll be forced to leave the United States.
Rick Batni, who owns Import Auto World, said that a substantial number of customers would stop by the Hayward business on a typical Wednesday evening. But today, it resembled a ghost town.
"We're heavy in Latino buyers," Batni said, adding that they comprise "around 30 to 40 percent" of his overall clientele.
But not any more.
And Batni's customers aren’t going to his competition, he said. They’ve simply stopped spending, awaiting the anvil of deportation.
"They are hesitant of buying anything," Batni said, because they are worried about being "taken across the border and their investment (is) sitting here."
Trump is pushing for reform that would cut the number of legal immigrants allowed into the U.S. The President on Wednesday introduced the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy Act, a system based more on skills than family ties.
East Bay Congressman Eric Swalwell has dubbed the trend the "Trump Effect."
"We're just starting to see the collateral damage of the President's policies on immigration," he said.
For now, business owners like Batni say they're doing what they can to survive, but they have no idea how long they can keep the lights on.
When asked what he would do if the rumblings out of Washington D.C. continue, Batni replied, "Downsize."