By Esther Lee
May 12, 2016
Dozens of immigrant advocates are using taco salad to remind Republican lawmakers that they won’t forget who stood with Donald Trump, who has found many ways to offend the immigrant community throughout his presidential campaign.
The presumptive GOP nominee has made inflammatory remarks characterizing Latino immigrants as rapists, criminals, and drug dealers. He also favors deporting the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the country; stripping away an executive action issued by President Obama that would grant temporary work authorization and deportation relief to certain undocumented immigrants; and banning Muslim immigrants from entering the country. And though Trump’s rhetoric has inspired some of his supporters to become violent toward Latinos and immigrants, the presidential nominee has yet to condemn those acts.
And last week, Trump marked Cinco De Mayo by tweeting out a photo of himself eating a taco bowl, declaring that he loves Hispanics.
Coincidentally, on Thursday -- the same day that Trump was in the nation's capital to meet with lawmakers on the Hill -- the Senate's cafeteria served taco salad on its menu. Advocates were quick to seize on the opportunity.
Members of the immigrant rights groups Latino Victory Project, United We Dream and United Farm Workers made their way to GOP offices with deliveries of taco salad, calling on senators to remember that supporting Trump would also mean supporting policies to deport the people who farmed, prepared, and served the food that made those taco salads possible.
"Implicit in this action is who harvested the tomatoes and lettuce," Lynn Tramonte, the deputy director of America's Voice, told ThinkProgress. "Who shredded the lettuce? Who created the tortilla and deep fried it to create a salad and made it look nice? A lot of people involved in the process of preparing the food that Donald Trump is eating are immigrants."
The National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS) estimates that about 48 percent of agricultural workers are unauthorized immigrants. The basic ingredients that went into those taco salads -- tomatoes, cheddar cheese, onions, lettuce, ground beef, chips, salsa -- are primarily picked by Latino workers, who are often immigrants.
Florida tomato workers are mostly immigrants from Mexico and Central America earning about 45 cents per 32-lb bucket of tomatoes, a rate that has not risen much since 1978. A lobbyist for Idaho's dairy industry once estimated that the workforce consisted of “probably about 70 percent foreign-born labor,” while Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) put the number closer to 90 percent. Immigrants have long been drawn to the meatpacking industry, though injuries on the job are frequent and sometimes long-lasting.
According to the immigrant rights organization, advocates delivered lunch to the offices of Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Rob Portman (R-OH), Pat Toomey (R-PA), John McCain (R-AZ), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Ted Cruz (R-TX). They also visited House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV), who have upcoming key house races.
Several of those lawmakers accepted the delivery cordially. Cruz's staffers said that they could take the salad but could not discuss campaign issues.
"They need to realize that they're talking about people whose services they are benefiting from," Tramonte said.
Activists also hoped the politicians would realize that their support for Donald Trump's presidential campaign could cost them.
Carlos Juarez, one of the activists who participated -- who came to the United States from Guatemala at the age of 12 -- told ThinkProgress he wanted to deliver a taco bowl to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) because "I want him to know that our community won't forget their support for Donald Trump."
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com