SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Parts of President Donald Trump’s immigration policy are raising concerns in the Bay Area‘s restaurant industry.
KRON4’s Maureen Kelly talked to those who are worried that a crackdown on undocumented workers could create even more of a labor shortage, making dining out even more expensive.
“We don’t need to be cracking down,” Golden Gate Restaurant Association Executive Director Gwyneth Borden said.
The Golden Gate Restaurant Association says immigrant labor, legal or otherwise, is the backbone of food service industry.
She is concerned that if the president’s immigration policy translates to increase of raids, that could make finding and keeping staff to prep and cook meals even tougher.
“If ICE were to start doing raids, all of sudden you wouldn’t have employees showing up anymore,” Borden said. “They don’t want to be deported. So, it would be absolutely devastating. Restaurants would be shut down because they actually wouldn’t be able to operate. They wouldn’t have enough staff.”
Chef Manuel Hewitt says his industry would also be hurt because the farmers that produce the food that ends up on his plates also rely on cheap immigrant labor. And if that goes away, prices will go up.
“It’s absolutely going to trickle down to the consumer,” Hewitt said.
He’s also concerned about the president’s recent proposal to pay for the border wall by slapping a 20 percent tariff on Mexican goods.
“So much of the food that we use in the restaurant industry and at the grocery store is produced and grown in Mexico. You are going to see massive increases in prices at your restaurants. You are going to see massive increases in prices at the store,” Hewitt said.
The restaurant association wants to see those working hard to be rewarded with a path to citizenship.
“We have a lot of people working, paying taxes, contributing to the growth and vitality of our economy, and we need to honor that” Borden said. “We don’t need to deport them. We don’t need to be building walls. We need to be finding ways to be able to make them full members of our society.”
They point out that restaurants make up more than 50 percent of the collected sales tax from San Francisco’s retail sector.
It is revenue that is critical to the economic health of the city.