Things That Matter

A New Restaurant Called Immigrant Food Just Opened Up Steps From The White House And We Stan

Sometimes we read a news story that just makes us exclaim: “Wow, these people are seriously shading like a boss! Damn!”

Humor and directness are great assets when it comes to political activism. When it comes to confronting anti-immigration views with elegance and wisdom, one of the best strategies is actually showcasing the richness of multiculturalism and the vast benefits to local culture that diversity brings. 

Introducing Immigrant Food, a literal melting pot of deliciousness from all around the globe

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

The restaurant, located at 1701 Pennsylvania Avenue, D.C.,  brings fusion cuisine to a new level, in unexpected ways that defy culinary conventions. For example, pickled platanitos on a Vietnamese noodle salad. One of the staples of Latino food, the humble banana is given a German treatment and thrown into a Southeast Asian dish. The restaurant’s mantra is simple: “We celebrate America’s story — the story of immigrants”. Amen! Take that, bullies! 

Chef Enrique Limardo and political activist Peter Schechter have taken adventurous paths and basically mixes dishes that have nothing to do with each other…until now.

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

Diversity is at the core of the new restaurant, which seems to be a sort of cachetada con guante blanco to those who refuse to admit that any healthy democracy needs cultural diversity. As Forbes reports: “Immigrant Food is the brainchild of political activist Peter Schechter who refers to this dining concept as more “cause casual” than fast-casual”.

So yes, it is food with a cause… and the cause is reminding us that diversity is at the core of any democratic society. Schechter told Forbes: “Rather than having a great business that then gives a portion of the profits as an afterthought to a cause, our cause is baked into our business model. We wouldn’t function without the cause.” As reported by CNN, Schechter is no spring chicken in political spheres, being described as “a seasoned political consultant and veteran of Washington’s think tank scene”. 

Just look at this symphony of colors and flavors: Ethiopia meets El Salvador!

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

At first sight the food from African and Central American countries have very little to do with each other, but if you think about it there is more in common that one might think. Ethiopian food is a delicious mix of grains, beans and sauces, and Salvadorian cuisine shares many of these core ingredients. Ethiopians and Salvadorians are two of the most vivid and active migrant groups in recent years. BTW, this is the Columbia Bowl and it looks just delish.

As chef Limardo told CNN in regards to how this dish came into existence: “I came up with the idea that we can use the berbere spice that is very common in Ethiopian food, and then in Salvadoran (food) they make a dressing that is made from pepita seeds. And the combination of both, it’s something that is unbelievable. Starting from that point, I just think that everything can be matched, if you’re using the right amount, and if you go back in history, and try to find the right spot to connect” . And it is right spot to connect that we all have to strive for, not only in food but also in life in multicultural societies.

The menu will change constantly and feature fusion dishes based on the traditions of 40 countries.

The menus will be supported by NGOs such as the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, Ayuda, the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, CARECEN and CASA. The menus will reflect the needs of the associated NGOs and basically speak to the causes of the time through culinary expression. In off-hours the restaurant is used as a space for these organizations to organize events such as meetings and English classes. Clients are also invited to make a donation when they pay the bill, and the sum is divided among the partner organizations. 

Seriously, can we please eat some of these platillos espectaculares.

Credit: immigrantfood / Instagram

We really hope that this restaurant remains open for a long, long time, and that others are inspired by the operation and message of what could very well become a Washington D.C. icon. After all, immigrants are deeply attached to the food and hospitality industries in the United States.

It is immigrants who sudan la gota gorda harvesting the fields, it is immigrants who bring their dishes and mix them with ingredients from other parts of the world (other than Native American dishes, no food is totally endemic to the country), it is immigrants who work in the kitchens as cooks, and it is increasingly immigrants such as top Mexican chef Enrique Olvera who are dictating the pace and trends in the industry. Immigrant Food is sort of stating the wonderful obvious: immigrants enrich any society through hard work and creativity.

As Schechter, the mastermind behind Immigrant Food and who is himself a product of Austrian and German migration told CNN: “This isn’t the America I recognize… Somehow it has become normal to disparage, to feel you can talk down to immigrants, like immigrants are not good for this country. Immigrants have been the foundation of growth and vibrancy. This country has been great again and again and again because of immigrants”. Preach! 

Leaked Emails Show Stephen Miller Believed DREAMERs Would Replace White Americans

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Leaked Emails Show Stephen Miller Believed DREAMERs Would Replace White Americans

Win McNamee / Getty

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller is still in office, despite mounting proof that he harbors white supremacist’s beliefs and numerous politicians and activists calling for his resignation. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hatewatch” vertical published a series of Miller’s emails leaked by an ex-Breitbart news editor. 

In the emails, Miller expressed fear that DREAMERs would replace white Americans and suggested deporting immigrants on trains to scare them. SPLC’s Michael Hayden says Miller is a supporter of the “great replacement theory” championed by white supremacists who fear white people will become a racial minority. The theory has been echoed in the manifestos of mass shooters and prominent white supremacist leaders. 

Miller believes his fellow Republicans aren’t hard enough on immigrants. 

“Demanding DREAMers be given citizenship because they ‘know no other home.’ That principle is an endorsement of perpetual birthright citizenship for the foreign-born,” Miller wrote in an email.  “Not only will the U.S.-born children of future illegal immigrants and guest workers be made automatic U.S. citizens, but their foreign-born children will too because, as [former Republican House Majority Leader Eric] Cantor said, ‘Our country was founded on the principle.’”

Miller praised Florida’s very own former governor Jeb Bush for his use of moderate rhetoric to push extreme policies. The emails leaked are from around 2015, when Miller was an aide to Senator Jeff Sessions before being selected by Trump.

 “Jeb [Bush] has mastered the art of using immigration rhetoric to sound ‘moderate’ while pushing the most extremist policies,” Miller wrote in an email. 

Former Breitbart editor Katie McHugh provided over 900 emails to SPLC in which Miller expressed disdain for non-white immigrants. McHugh says she leaked the emails addressed to her from Miller to expose the hidden “evil” of the Trump administration’s immigration policies. 

“In a November 2015 email that Hatewatch has not previously published, Miller forwarded an interview with Phyllis Schlafly from far-right conspiracy website WorldNetDaily that argued undocumented immigrants should be shipped out on trains to ‘scare out the people who want to undo our country,’” according to SPLC. 

25 interfaith groups call for the resignation of Stephen Miller. 

Yesterday, 25 faith groups, among them many prominent Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders including the Anti-Defamation League, The Nation’s Mosque, and African American Ministers in Action, signed a letter calling for Miller’s resignation. 

“Stephen Miller authored many of these destructive policies and helped ensure their enactment via his network of anti-immigrant officials throughout the federal government. Further, these policies have been paired with heightened and unrelenting anti-immigrant and xenophobic rhetoric coming from the White House,” the organizations said. 

The group also called out the Trump administration for allowing white supremacist views in the White House. 

“At one point in history, harboring a white supremacist in the White House could harm an administration. Today, President Trump appears unbothered by his close official’s ties to white supremacy. This cannot stand. As organizations of many faiths, who feel love and respect where Miller advances disdain and hate, we call for his resignation immediately,” the letter stated

Last November 100 lawmakers demanded Stephen Miller resign. 

Miller has been in the hot seat for a while. Last year 100 lawmakers demanded the advisor’s resignation, a couple of weeks ago 25 Jewish members of congress joined that call following Rolling Stone’spublication of a different set of leaked emails that further establish his support of xenophobic ideas. 

“A documented white nationalist has no place in any presidential administration, and especially not in such an influential position,” the 100 representatives wrote in a letter to President Donald Trump. “Miller’s white supremacist influence on your immigration policy, and it seems like that his perfidious adherence to extremist ideology has shaped your administration in ways that are not yet public.”

In the Rolling Stone emails, Miller called refugees “foreign-born terrorists” and expressed a fondness for a book called “Camp of Saints” which is a favorite of neo-Nazis.

“The dystopian 1973 novel is widely regarded as racist and traffics in fear-mongering about immigrant invasions. It is popular among white nationalist circles and has been invoked by former White House aide Steve Bannon and Iowa Congressman Steve King,” according to Newsweek

Other emails show Miller is using his influence in the White House to coordinate anti-immigration policies that reflect his views. 

“In the emails, [senior advisor at ICE Jon] Feere strategizes with Miller about how to use the federal government to amplify their anti-immigration message; tees up potential attacks on prominent Democratic politicians; directly briefs Miller in great detail about upcoming enforcement actions and policy changes in the works; and recommends to Miller people the administration should hire to expedite its immigration agenda,” according to Rolling Stone

While Miller has still not resigned, the pressure is continuing to mount in Congress and among activists. 

Despite Trump’s False Claims, Facts Are Facts: More Than 99% Of Asylum Seekers Show Up To Their Court Dates

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Despite Trump’s False Claims, Facts Are Facts: More Than 99% Of Asylum Seekers Show Up To Their Court Dates

Jorge Benez-Ramon / Getty

One of the biggest myths that the Trump administration has perpetuated is that asylum seekers do not conform to the legal requirements and processes required to guarantee their cases are being heard in court. The Trump administration has claimed that the only way to guarantee that asylum seekers’ cases will reach the court is to keep them in detention centers (yes, you read that right).

This seems a bit counterintuitive: if they are seeking asylum it is because they have a cause they find justifiable for entering the United States undocumented in the first place. A recent study sheds light on the fallacy of “missed court appointments” and reveals that if not in detention, a vast majority (let’s just say the totality) of asylum seekers do show up for their hearings.  

Numeritos hablan: 99% of who were not detained or who were released from immigration custody show up to their hearings.

Credit: AZFamily / Instagram

New data from Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC, a think tank that tracks data in the immigration courts) at Syracuse University reveals that most of asylum seekers who are not detained do attend their court hearings.

This finding basically trumps Trump’s assertion that they do not, which misrepresents them as individuals who prefer to live in the shadows and at the risk of being deported rather than doing due legal diligence. On average, migrants who are caught at the border or who hand themselves in have to wait for more than two years before their cases are dealt with in court.

But there are some others who have to wait even longer, as the TRAC report tells us: “Overall, asylum applicants waited on average 1,030 days – or nearly three years – for their cases to be decided. But many asylum applicants waited even longer: a quarter of applicants waited 1,421 days, or nearly four years, for their asylum decision.” Four years is a long, long time… wouldn’t anyone want the wait to be over?

Other previous research also disregards the idea that migrants want to live in the United States illegally rather than seeing their cases go through.

For those who have been lucky enough to never have to flee their home country or live in constant fear of being deported, it might feel like migrants would rather hide than face the law. This is also the driving rationale behind the Trump administration’s move to send asylum seekers to Mexico and wait there until their cases go through court. However, studies have shown that they want their migratory status to be cleared so they can go on with their lives, free of worries of being deported at any time. 

When in doubt, use science! 

As Vox reports, the numbers gathered by TRAC are pretty definitive: “The latest data from TRAC shows that nearly every migrant who applied for asylum and whose case was completed in 2019 showed up for all of their court hearings”. Boom! However, the Department of Justice has raised concerns about the accuracy of TRAC’s data analysis. TRAC does not disclose its methodology but uses information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. 

The Department of Justice claims numbers are much lower.

FILE PHOTO: Children walk inside an enclosure, where they are being held by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), after crossing the border between Mexico and the United States illegally and turning themselves in to request asylum, in El Paso, Texas, U.S., March 29, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

Data from the Department of Justice contradicts the stunning 99% published by TRAC. According to 2018 numbers, the government says actually 75% of asylum seekers show up to their court hearings, a significant drop compared to TRAC’s analysis. And Trump’s numbers are even lower… yes, really.

He has said: “Tell me, what percentage of people come back? Would you say 100 percent? No, you’re a little off. Like, how about 2 percent? And those people, you almost don’t want, because they cannot be very smart… Those two percent are not going to make America great again, that I can tell you”. Wow, can you imagine a more deceitful way of framing reality?

TRAC’s report also reveals that more asylum seeker cases were decided in 2019 than in any other year… 46,735 people were denied asylum.

Yes, the courts are being busy. As the report reads, in 2019 “judges decided 67,406 asylum cases, nearly two-and-a-half times the number from five years ago when judges decided 19,779 asylum cases. The number of immigrants who have been granted asylum more than doubled from 9,684 in FY 2014 to 19,831 in FY 2019.”

But it is not all good news, as “the number of immigrants who have been denied asylum or other relief grew even faster from 9,716 immigrants to 46,735 over the same time period.” The three countries of origin that top the charts of successful asylum seekers are China, El Salvador and India.