Friday, April 19, 2019

NYC Mexican Restaurateurs Take the Lead on Immigration Activism


Photo from La Morada website

News from Eater NYC about  Mexican restaurateurs active in immigration causes.  Yajaira Saavedra, an owner of the Bronx’s Oaxacan restaurant La Morada (with mole on the menu!), says. “I’m very proud of my roots.” Her family’s restaurant serves Oaxacan dishes in a bright space that features the banner above:  “No deportaciones / No deportations.” A lending library offering free books to the community sits in the back, and the front door reads “Refugees Welcome.”

Saavedra, along with other Mexican restaurateurs around the city, like Daniel Ortiz De Montellano Luft of Casa Publica and Guillaume Guevara of Miscelanea, have been vocal advocates for Mexico and for their communities here in NYC. All three have spoken out on Trump’s immigration policies, and Guevara launched a line of pro-immigration goods like hats, pins, and stickers in his Mexican deli that benefits the American Civil Liberties Union. Luft and chef Fany Gerson (the two are married) have assisted their employees with immigration proceedings and paperwork.

Saavedra in particular is a striking example of a restaurateur-activist. She’s the daughter of Natalia Mendez, the chef-owner of La Morada, which is transparent about the immigration status of its proprietors. “We are an undocumented family-owned and operated Oaxaca Restaurant in the South Bronx,” its website reads in both English and Spanish. “Our goal is to preserve and share indigenous Mexican cuisine with our neighbors and friends.”

Earlier this year, Saavedra was taken into police custody; she claims she was targeted by the NYPD for being an undocumented immigrant activist.


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