A NYC Restaurant Has the Best Response to Trump's Travel Ban

February 6th 2017

Nicole Levin

A New York City restaurant's response to President Donald Trump's immigration order went viral after a NBC News Contributor Mary Emily O'Hara tweeted an image of her Sunday brunch receipt. 



After brunching in Brookyln's Kiwiani, O'Hara noticed that the bottom of her receipt said: "Immigrants make America great (they also cooked your food and served you today)."

Mark Simmons, head chef the restaurant, told DNAinfo New York that he had added the pro-immigrant note in response to Trump's ban on refugees and immigrants from some largely Muslim countries. 

"I added that message to the bottom of the receipts recently, to remind ourselves [and] our customers that immigrants are quite often the backbone of the hospitality industry," Simmons told DNAinfo.

Simmons said he regularly adds "little notes" to the end of his receipts, but they are rarely political.

By Monday afternoon, the tweet had received 68,000 retweets and 185,000 likes. O'Hara,  author of the tweet, told ATTN: that "the popularity of this one simple photo of a restaurant check goes to show you that people have very strong feelings about the immigration ban one way or another." 

Simmons is not the only chef to speak out against Trump's immigration policies. As ATTN: reported in December, chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain announced that he would never eat in a Trump restaurant again because of the president's immigration policies.

Trump has threatened to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, with draft executive orders suggesting that immigrants could be deported for "crimes" like their children receiving free lunch at school.

Bourdain said that if the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants were deported, "every restaurant in America would shut down." 

He's not too far off. The restaurant industry is indeed dependent on immigrant labor: In 2010, out of the roughly 12.7 million restaurant industry workers, 1.4 million were immigrants. And, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, of the 2.5 million chefs in the U.S., 20 percent were undocumented immigrants as of 2008; roughly one-third of dishwashers (generally the lowest paid position at a restaurant) were also undocumented. 

Pew Table

Food service is not the only industry dependent on immigrant labor. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, while immigrants make up only 17 percent of the workforce, they tend to be concentrated in certain fields, such as hospitality, construction, and manufacturing. 

Worker distribution

While Trump's immigration order is in the midst of a legal battle, his immigration plans — if enacted — are likely to impact many aspects of the economy, from brunch service to food prices