As director of advocacy for the Yemeni-American Merchants Association, Algabyali fights for his community on immigration, education and other issues at the federal, state and local level.
The merchants association represents 4,000 business owners in New York City. Algabyali’s family owns grocery stores and delis in the city as well, so he has firsthand experience in understanding merchants’ struggles.
One main concern is fines for awning and sign violations. The Yemeni-American Merchants Association joined several business groups at a rally at City Hall protesting the surge in enforcement.
“We want to have a stop on that,” Algabyali said. “This is something that we never knew about.
“When you have people who contribute to our economy and society as a whole, that’s a stab in the back,” he added. “That’s why we’re here advocating for them.”
The merchants association has also been at the forefront of fighting against President Donald Trump’s travel ban. Yemen is one of the countries included on the banned list.
Last year, they organized a massive demonstration, with nearly 5,000 people, at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Nearly 1,000 bodegas across the city collectivey shut down for the entire day.
“That’s leaving them to worry about what’s going to happen to their families back in Yemen, a war-torn country,” Algabyali said.
Algabyali, who is set to graduate next May with a degree in international studies and political science, is already gearing up to be a strong advocate. He has interned in the offices of several elected officials, as well as the State Department’s Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In the meantime, he’s still advocating for the merchants in his community.
“We want justice for them,” he said.