NEW YORK — Immigrant workers at a famed New York bakery who are threatened with being fired if they don’t produce legal work papers defied the government outside President Donald Trump’s Manhattan home on Saturday.
Thirty-one employees of the Tom Cat Bakery also could be deported if they don’t prove by April 21 that they’re in the country legally.
The mostly Spanish-speaking workers and about 100 supporters rallied outside Trump Tower to protest what they called the Trump administration’s “bullying.”
Tom Cat managers summoned the workers one by one last month to tell them that the Department of Homeland Security was investigating the company, and they would be fired if they could not provide the documents, according to Daniel Gross, executive director of Brandworkers, a non-profit that defends food manufacturing workers’ rights.
Multiple calls to the Tom Cat plant in Queens went unanswered.
“It made me feel so sad, angry at the same time, because I never expected this was going to happen,” said Hector Solis, 45, a native of Mexico City and a Brooklyn resident.
He supports his family with work that starts at 4:30 a.m. daily. Solis had a heart attack several years ago and is afraid to lose his job along with his health insurance.
Though he produced what appeared to be work documents a dozen years ago for his job, he acknowledges that he’s not legally permitted to work in the U.S. ‚Äî “no, not really” ‚Äî but says he’s been paying U.S. taxes for 20 years.
The 31 workers are represented by the Urban Justice Center “in their struggle to remain in their jobs and inspire working people around the country to resist immigration enforcement actions,” the non-profit said in a statement released by attorney Reena Arora.
She said the centre is considering various legal options.
The bakery employs about 180 workers in the Long Island City neighbourhood, churning out artisanal bread 24 hours a day that supplies some of New York’s finest restaurants and gourmet stores.