Culture

Dunkin’ Donuts Is Suing Franchise Owners In An Attack Against Undocumented Immigrants

If you think the Starbucks vs Dunkin’ Donuts game wasn’t already polarizing, America’s coffee choices just got politicized. Dunkin’ Donuts Franchising LLC filed a complaint in a Delaware federal court on June 24, alleging two of its franchise owners have violated federal immigration law and their stores should be shut down. This complaint was against Thomas Sheehan and Kenneth Larson, who run nine stores in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. It isn’t the first time Dunkin’ sued its own franchise owners for this reason.

Dunkin’ sent termination letters to 14 stores in New Jersey and Virginia and then filed a suit against them in April.

According to Dunkin’, it was a customer complaint that sparked this wave of suits.

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It then began a ten month review period which found hundreds of employee records with incomplete, unverified or falsified I-9 forms. Those I-9 forms are what authorize a person to legally work in the United States. The company also uses an electronic system called “E-Verify.”

Dunkin’ started using E-Verify in 2006, when only government agencies were using the system.

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Two years later, the company began investing in lobbying efforts for immigration reform. It even hired an outside firm to lobby on immigration in 2017. It filed 100 similar lawsuits in 2006 and 2007 alone. The suits filed in the last couple of months are primarily citing its franchise owners for not using E-Verify.

One Delaware franchise owner has countersued Dunkin’.

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They’re claiming they were given no opportunity to “correct the violations” and suspect Dunkin’ is just trying to resell their stores for greater profit. Kind of like when your landlord stops caring about keeping you around so that they can hike up the rent.

Labor lawyers are saying that patrolling immigration status has never been a targeted issue in franchises.

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Dunkin’ is leading the way in pushing immigrant supporters from wanted to run on Dunkin’. Of course, folks are starting to #BoycottDunkin.

Those who support making life harder for undocumented folks are pledging allegiance to Dunkin’ Donuts.

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Some business analysts suspect Dunkin’ is simply making a play at reselling its franchises for profit by pushing owners out. Others imagine Dunkin’ is just trying to protect its own business by avoiding the potential for labor violation fines. Pesky customer complaints.

Last year, new CEO Dave Hoffman said hiring workers on work-study visas was “critical” for the company.

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So the move could mean that it’s trying to show the federal government that it’s a lawful employer, in hopes that it would make receiving more legal work visas probable. That was said around the time that 7/11 avoided its own labor violation fines by assisting ICE with raiding nearly 100 stores. 7/11 stated that the franchises, not the company, were responsible for following labor laws.

Regardless, the move has acted as a dog whistle on Twitter.

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Sorry, @NookAppolloni, the move would be destroying hundreds of lives in the Northeast 💯.  The lawsuit targets stores in that area so the wish for California is kind of uneducated. With the inhumane conditions in detention centers and the increased privatization of said centers, it’s likely the most dangerous time to be an undocumented worker in the United States. 

Hypocrisy looks like knowing that Trump’s businesses employ undocumented workers without fear of consequence.

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Being undocumented is not a gift or cheating the system. It is a burden to be someone who is more financially and socially vulnerable. Living undocumented means that, while on a quest for a better life, you have to forfeit basic human rights and live in fear that your employer might do something like this.

So, to the Latinx couple that found a screw in their Dunkin’ bagel this week, take it as a metaphor for what they are doing to undocumented people.

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Whatever the business motive is, the move is complicit in the inhumane detention of immigrants. A Jewish Holocaust historian coined the term, “the banality of evil,” which insinuates that evil doesn’t exist in a single mind alone. In order for it to be carried out, it must become pedestrian, seeped into a fabric of society until it is accepted.

READ: New Report Shows ICE Using DMV Data To Track People As Undocumented People Get Drivers Licenses

A New Documentary Is Showing An Untold And Heartbreaking Side Of The Undocumented Life In The US

Entertainment

A New Documentary Is Showing An Untold And Heartbreaking Side Of The Undocumented Life In The US

imleavingnowdoc / Instagram

The recent immigration debate in the U.S. has largely centered around the forced separation of families at the southern border and indefinite detentions. However, “Ya Me Voy,” a documentary by Mu Media, is shining light on the internal immigration debate. The story centers on a man living undocumented in the U.S. and his decision to stay in the U.S. or leave and rejoin his family. However, unexpected love and troubles at home in Mexico play a major role in his decision.

“I’m Leaving Now (Ya Me Voy)” is a touching look at the personal immigration debate many undocumented immigrants in the U.S. face.

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Felipe, an undocumented immigrant living in New York, has spent years living away from his family in Mexico. His mission was to find work and send money home regularly to help his family with the ultimate goal to move back to be with his wife and kids.

The documentary starts with Felipe calling his family telling them that he was ready to move back to Mexico and reunite with them.

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After several attempts and changes of mind, Felipe is finally ready to go back home. He had been sending his family money and expects to come home in a better position. It has been 16 years and he has been diligent in sending money back to his family.

However, during a phone call home, he learns that everything he had worked for has fallen apart.

Credit: The Cinema Guild / YouTube

His family had managed to squander the money he had sent back for them. Not only that, they had gotten themselves into debt. Felipe, who was planning to go home, realizes that it might not be able to go home since the family is now indebted after his 16 years of hard, manual labor in the U.S.

During the documentary, the audience learns that Felipe has fallen in love with a woman in the U.S.

Credit: The Cinema Guild / YouTube

The romantic relationship complicates his decision to do home. On one hand, he wants to reunite with his sons and wife more than anything. He misses them terribly and knows that his heart ultimately lies with them. However, his family has spent the money he managed to send them and returning would put him back where he was when he came to the U.S. all those years ago. The new romance offers him solace and comfort in the U.S.

We witness Felipe having tough conversations with his new life in the U.S.

Credit: The Cinema Guild / YouTube

Felipe is trying to determine if he is still able to move back to a family he does not know. It has been so long since he left Mexico that he is essentially a stranger to his children. His wife has been without him for 16 years and he has set unexpected roots in a place that was supposed to be temporary. At one point, you see him telling a vendor that he was preparing to leave and she jokes that she’ll believe it when he is no longer here.

Ultimately, he is forced to make a decision as to whether he is going to stay in the U.S. or be with a family he left years ago.

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His tale is one that so many undocumented immigrants in the U.S. experience. They leave friends and family behind in an attempt to better the lives of those they are leaving behind. Many will never see their family again and have to miss major moments, like funerals, to sacrifice it all to help their family.

Watch the full trailer below.

READ: Say Their Names: The People Who Have Died In US Immigration Custody In 2019

After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

Things That Matter

After Almost Two Years, Trans Activist Alejandra Barrera Has Been Released From ICE Custody

transgender_together / Instagram

After nearly two years in detention, Alejandra Barrera, a 44-year-old transgender Salvadorian activist, was released from an ICE facility in New Mexico late last Friday. Human rights activists and the transgender immigrant community are rejoicing at the news that Barrera will finally be freed after being held in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention since November 2017.

Barrera, who hails from El Salvador, fled her country due to discrimination and persecution. Shortly after seeking asylum in the U.S, she was detained at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention center with a unit specifically for transgender women that opened in 2017, according to the Phoenix New Times. During her time at the detention facility, there were numerous complaints of abuse and maltreatment of inmates that included the death of Roxsana Hernandez Rodriguez, a transgender woman who died of HIV-related complications last year. 

 Before leaving El Salvador, Barrera was a well-known activist in her home country where she stood up for transgender rights for over a decade. But with this attention also came attacks from local gangs and the Salvadoran military who targeted her and forced her to eventually leave in and claim asylum in November 2017. In spite of all of this, Barrera was repeatedly denied asylum in the U.S.

Many people and organizations helped build awareness around the release of Barrera. But it was the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that made the world know her story. 

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Barrera’s release is the culmination of a year-long campaign by multiple nonprofit organizations like the Amnesty International, the Translatin@ Coalition and the National Immigrant Justice Center. This also included the help of federal lawmakers like Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar (Minn.), Adam Schiff (Calif.), and Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) 

Many first heard the story of Barrera with the hashtag #FreeAlejandra that circulated online for months spreading awareness of her detention. A Change.org petition demanding her freedom received more than 36,000 signatures and raised awareness of Barerra’s case using the hashtag #FreeAlejandra.

“Through letters of support, people from around the world gave me the strength to continue in this struggle that was so hard for me. I’m here to keep fighting”  Barrera said in response to everyone that helped share her story. 

Bamby Salcedo, the executive director of Translatin@ Coalition, acknowledged all the work put forth to have Barrera finally released. She said in a video posted to Facebook the day of  Barrera’s release that her “heart is so full of joy” now that Barrera is finally out.

“It was because of all of your calls, because of all of you signing petitions, showing up to the rallies, showing up the press conferences, her lawyers – everyone – all of you who wrote letters to Alejandra, everyone who participated in la campaigna de #FreeAlejandra – should be very proud because this is one more victory and we should be able to celebrate,” Salcedo said in the video. 

Barrera is currently released on parole while she waits for her asylum case to go to immigration court.

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While Barrera is out and getting to enjoy her freedom, her fight for asylum is not over just yet. As of now, Barrera’s asylum status is still not secure and must now continue to fight against her deportation. If she is not granted asylum, Barrera faces the daunting possibility of being deported back to El Salvador. 

Denise Bell, Amnesty International’s researcher for refugee and migrant rights, told the Daily News that while her organization is happy that Barrera is out of ICE detention, the fight is not over yet. Bell says that she hopes that Barrera’s case becomes an example of what happens when people come together to bring awareness to a good cause. 

“We don’t think that she should be returned to El Salvador, where we are gravely concerned for her well-being,” Bell told the Daily News. “Trans people in detention are at a special risk of abuse because of their special medical needs, often, and [because of] their gender identity. So we just want to draw attention to the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of other trans people who are seeking asylum, who are in immigration detention [and] who should be released on parole

Barrera is currently being represented by Rebekah Wolf of the Equal Justice Coalition, who fought and brought awareness for her release. While she seeks refuge, Barrera will stay with a sponsor from the TransLatin@ Coalition. 

According to the Washington Blade, ICE estimates that at least 111 transgender people who are being held in U.S. detention centers. The number is an increase that what ICE estimated just five months prior and it does not include detainees that might have been uncounted. 

READ: Mexico Has Become The World’s Second-Deadliest Country For Transgender People To Live And Many Are Worried