News of President Trump’s tightened deportation plan together with the forty ICE arrests made in NYC last week and the earlier executive order restricting the entry of immigrants into the country has created an atmosphere of fear across the service industry. According to a national study by the Pew Research Center in 2009, 12% of the restaurant industry’s workforce are undocumented. The industry is notorious for paying near-poverty wages. And the increasingly hateful rhetoric surrounding immigrants, legal or not, is likely to restrict restaurant workers from fighting for better conditions.
Posts by Anaka Kaundinya:
Uniting under #adaywithoutimmigrants, businesses across the nation remained closed today in powerful defiance of Trump’s crackdown on immigration. The protesters, enraged that Immigration and Customs officials reportedly arrested 680 immigrants last week, have been urging immigrant workers to stay home from work and school, and refrain from buying anything. The idea is to highlight how integral immigrants are to the backbone of the country by stalling economic contribution for one day. Close on the heels of Washington D.C., which became the epicenter of the strike/boycott, dozens of businesses across NYC will remain closed today. Most are, fittingly, restaurants– an industry largely dependent on immigrant employees.
Residents, activists, community groups and their elected representatives gathered at the steps of City Hall yesterday afternoon with a Valentine’s Day message for Mayor de Blasio. Their request – to convert the long vacant P.S. 64 building in the East Village into a community center and disallow owner Gregg Singer from developing it into a college dorm.
“Some very unsavory people threatened me into opening this chocolate shop,” says Sebastien Brecht.
Brecht is the owner of Obsessive Chocolate Disorder (OCD), an artisanal chocolaterie opening this week on East 4th Street in the East Village. And the unsavory people he refers to, in his characteristic deadpan humor, are his wife and two kids.
“It’s not so good, huh?” laughs Kathleen Webster, president of the Sara D. Roosevelt Park Coalition as she refers to the D- grade that the park received from New Yorkers for Parks. The near-failing grade was issued last year by the nonprofit whose research and policy recommendations help in advocating for more equitably distributed, sustainable and well-maintained parks in the city.
I can come up with a handful of half-decent excuses to not talk to a canvasser on the street, ranging from the whiny to the legit– I really am too broke to help. But to tell the truth, I also don’t want to get into a difficult conversation about the dismal state of the world. Don’t we have enough of that shoved down our social media feeds everyday? So yes, turns out I am that person that we wrote about in October, the one who brushes past Amnesty International canvassers. There’s an art to it, too: first I let my gaze turn steely, then I tighten the grip on my bag and put on an air of a person with a purpose. It works like a charm and at worst, I’m left with a slight twinge of guilt.