Ricardo Aca wanted to use his position as an immigrant worker at a gleaming downtown Manhattan hotel owned by real estate mogul Donald Trump to show that Mexicans living in the United States are a hardworking bunch and not, as the Republican presidential candidate described them, rapists or drug dealers.
“I know I could lose my job just for talking about Trump,” Aca said in a video produced by New Left Media. “But it doesn’t make me proud to go to work every day under his name.”
Aca, who described himself as an undocumented immigrant, explains in the video that he came to New York City from Puebla, Mexico, when he was 14. He said he works two jobs, including as a busboy at the restaurant housed inside the Trump SoHo hotel, on top of dabbling in commercial photography.
“I can’t vote, but I can take photos and share the stories of people like me,” Aca says in the video, adding: “Trump keeps pointing out all these immigrants that have done all these terrible things, but those aren’t the immigrants that I know.”
There is a little bit more to Aca’s story than the nearly three-minute video lets on, though.
The New York Times reported that while Aca does not have legal status, he is a beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which supplies him with a work permit.
Aca’s employer, the Koi Group, also asked New Left Media to take down the video because, as attorney Suzanne Chou told the newspaper, its title misleadingly suggested that Aca was working illegally for Trump SoHo. Chou told the Times that Koi SoHo is a “third party tenant” in the hotel.
For his part, Trump told the Times that he didn’t want Aca to be punished for speaking out.
“He’s got a legal work permit,” the real estate mogul told the newspaper. “I’ve heard he does a good job. We thought he was an illegal immigrant at first.”
Reports of undocumented workers laboring for Trump’s companies date back to the 1980s, when a contractor employed what was known as “the Polish brigade” — a group of 200 undocumented workers from Poland — to clear the ground for Trump Tower. Earlier this summer, The Washington Post reported that undocumented immigrants were among the workers renovating the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington, D.C., to turn it into the Trump International Hotel.