The co-owner of a Baltimore restaurant says 30 of his kitchen staff quit after an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent demanded their papers – an exodus he described as the "saddest day."
In an open letter to his customers Saturday, posted on Facebook, BoatHouse Canton owner Gene Singleton called out the Trump administration "for targeting the Hispanic community."
"Properly documented and potentially less than properly documented are all fearful of being separated from their families, many with small children," Singleton wrote. "Many went home to pack up and leave."
They were "some of the best citizens we have," Singleton told the Washington Post.
He told the newspaper every worker had passed the restaurant’s vetting process and appeared to be in the United States legally – and no one had been accused of wrongdoing.
Singleton told the Post he's never had immigration issues over his 35 years in the restaurant business – and didn't expect any under President Donald Trump either.
"I understood the immigrant community was not going to be targeted aggressively," he told the Post. "Either I misunderstood or they changed."
According to the Post, an ICE agent showed up at the restaurant last Thursday with a letter asking Singleton to provide a list of anyone who worked at the restaurant in the past two years, along with their employment eligibility forms.
"The guy was nice and polite. There was no scene," he told the Post.
But word quickly spread through the kitchen, he said, and that evening, a chef called a manager.
"He told him, 'All our people are really fearful. I’m not sure if they’re going to come back tomorrow.'" Singleton told the Post.
By Friday, a quarter of BoatHouse’s staff decided they had no choice but to go home and not return, the Post reported.
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