Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have been showing up at several Los Angeles restaurants in the past two weeks, interrogating workers and in some cases briefly detaining them, Eater has learned.
While rumors have been circulating throughout the restaurant community about an increased ICE presence across Los Angeles, Eater has so far only been able to confirm their appearance at one: Maggiano’s Little Italy at The Grove. The chain Italian eatery is an anchor at the mid-city shopping plaza, which itself is the most heavily-touristed destination anywhere on the entire West Coast.
Management at this particular Maggiano’s declined to comment on ICE’s arrival more than a week ago, directing Eater to the corporate public relations line for its parent company Brinker International. They have failed to respond to repeated emails and phone calls, while federal workers tell Eater that “ICE doesn’t confirm audits of specific businesses.”
However, an inside source who requested anonymity has confirmed to Eater that ICE agents did, in fact, make their way to Maggiano’s on the morning of February 13, pulling out workers and holding them for questioning for an unknown amount of time. Last week, local city blog LA Taco reported that ICE had been making large sweeps across the Southland (not all restaurant-specific), arresting 212 people in the process.
Immigration issues and ICE raids are not altogether uncommon within the restaurant industry, though they are often considered to be rather destructive to the lives of food workers. Under President Trump ICE activity has increased across America, leading to some tough questions about how (and when) restaurants should protect its undocumented workforce. Got any more information on recent immigration raids at restaurants around Los Angeles? Hit the tip line, anonymity guaranteed.