President Donald Trump’s treatment of the immigrant community continues to spark strong feelings. This Tuesday, a new restaurant called — aptly enough — Immigrant Food opened up down the street from the White House and will be focusing on immigrant food and even providing resources from and a space for organizations advocating for immigrant rights. The restaurant — which insists that it’s focused on immigrant rights and not on pushing or capitalizing on specifically anti-Trump sentiment — opened on the day that the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case in which the Trump administration is seeking to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
Co-founder Peter Schechter explained of his restaurant:
‘It’s one of the few things in Washington that’s not about Mr. Trump. We’re in a period in the States where suddenly one of the most basic things about being an American is suddenly in doubt.’
That “basic thing” is the fundamental place of a respect for immigration. Trump’s own attacks on immigrants have extended well beyond his infamous, on-again, off-again, push for a southern border wall blocking off Mexico. Just this Tuesday, he tweeted the outlandish claim:
‘Many of the people in DACA, no longer very young, are far from “angels.” Some are very tough, hardened criminals.’
Schechter adds, discussing the “advocacy component” to their restaurant:
‘Nobody’s going to force it down their throats. If somebody wants to come and just eat, that’s fine… But we believe that people wake up in the morning and read the headlines on immigration and say, ‘This is horrible,’ but they don’t know what to do about it. So we want to engage them, that there are things they can do about it.’
To that end, the restaurant will be producing an online monthly magazine and offering a “menu” in addition to the one for their food that will provide customers the opportunity to contribute their money, time, or related resources to five nonprofit groups working in the same space as Immigrant Food. Those organizations — who will be able to use the facility itself for that meeting space, provide resources including “legal representation in immigration courts, naturalization workshops, English-as-a-second-language classes, even training on how to handle interviews with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents,” in the description of The Washington Post.
Schechter is working alongside co-founders including the Venezuelan-born, immigrant chef Enrique Limardo and Ezequiel Vázquez-Ger, who’s from Argentina.
Schechter is the only one who’s not an immigrant, but he’s only a first-generation American — he was born (in Rome) to immigrant parents.
As should mostly go without saying, a large portion of Americans have some kind of close personal connection to immigration, but Trump and his cronies have attempted to attack immigrants every step of the way anyway. Attacks on immigrants are not attacks on some separate group — in reality, they’re affronts against Americans at large.
Trump is hoping to capitalize on that hate enough to win re-election, although it doesn’t look good for him so far — he consistently comes in far behind all leading Democratic presidential primary candidates.