Listen to the story.
Marco Werman: I’m Marco Werman and we’re going to kick things off on The World today looking at migration. A big deal these days, migrants and refugees escaping hardships at home seemingly everywhere. We could be talking about the record numbers of people making the often deadly passage across the Mediterranean to Europe; some of them are now camped out in Calais, in France, determined to get to Britain--more on that in a moment. But first, Latinos coming north to the US. Presidential candidate Donald Trump, as you know, has created a firestorm with his comments about Mexican immigrants. Now, at least one of those immigrants is very publicly talking back.
[Excerpt from audio]
Werman: Ricardo Aca buses tables at the Koi Restaurant in the Trump SoHo in Manhattan, and he’s featured in a short video from New Left Media.
[Excerpt from audio]
Werman: Ricardo joins me now from New York. So, you’re basically trying to answer back what Trump’s claims are--a lot of Mexicans are criminals, drug deals, and rapists--and you’re none of those. This seems like a really bold move. Trump’s name is on the hotel where the restaurant where you work at is, so why would you make this video?
Ricardo Aca: I technically don’t really work for the Trump hotel, I work at the restaurant that happens to lease within his building. But for me, before, it used to be like “Well, it’s pretty cool that I work there,” but now it’s kind of like I don’t feel proud, it’s not something that I brag about. So, I was really upset.
Werman: Why do you think that Mexicans have become a target like this during this presidential race?
Aca: Well, I think Mexicans are obviously the easy target because they’re the most talked about because they’re the country that’s under the US, so we’re just right there, and that’s usually where most--not only Mexicans--but also a lot of Latinos come from, whether they’re from Guatemala or Ecuador or Colombia. They first have to go to Mexico, and then from Mexico they have to come to the US. So Mexico is the easy target.
Werman: Yeah, you also say in the video that the rest of Americans, you believe, don’t really feel the way Trump does. But the other GOP candidates say his comments have hit a nerve more widely in the public and in some polls Trump is leading. What does this say?
Aca: Well, I guess you can say he has the balls to actually speak his mind. I mean, he’s a millionaire so he’s not really losing anything--he’s a billionaire, he’s not really losing anything whether he wins or not. And so yeah, he’s not losing anything. Compared to other Republicans, obviously he just speaks up his mind and I’m sure other Republicans also have the same take on immigration but they just don’t have the same platform that he does.
Werman: Ricardo, considering you say you steer away from politics, you’re a pretty sharp political analyst.
Aca: I don’t really know much. All I know is that I’m a little bit angry when it comes to someone who insults not only me but the people that I work with and my community.
Werman: Yeah, well angry enough to put out this video. Has there been any reaction? Because it just came out this week. Any reaction from your coworkers or the management there at the Koi Restaurant?
Aca: I did freak out a little bit because the program that I’m on there is called Defer Action, which is a program for undocumented immigrants, and it’s renewable every two years. And Trump has said that if he were to become president, he would end this program, which would remove my employment authorization card. It’s not just like a green card, it’s not like an American passport. You can just be removed any time, which will leave me undocumented and unable to work.
Werman: Ricardo now has papers as part of a program called DACA, he’s among four million undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children and have been granted deportation deferrals and work permits. It’s a program Donald Trump opposes. And as we were wrapping up our interview, we got word that The New York Times posted a story with Trump’s response to Ricardo Aca’s video.
Aca: It says, “For now, Mr. Trump says he will not press Mr. Aca’s employer to punish him,” though he added, “I want to check his file.”
Werman: Does it sound like, from those comments, that Trump might be on the warpath to get rid of you?
Aca: I will have to see and wait. But obviously whatever happens, I’m sure something better is going to come out of this, and that as long as the message is being sent, I think that’s the purpose of this story, you know, to speak up for all the immigrants like me. My job, at this point, is no longer really relevant to what I do, that I’m a busser. It’s more about sending the message and telling my story, which is the story of many other immigrants like me.
Werman: Ricardo Aca, who buses tables at the Koi Restaurant in the Trump SoHo in Manhattan. Thanks very much for telling us about your video.
Aca: Thank you so much for the time. I appreciate it.