Every week, the workers at Tom Cat bakery in Queens proudly serve their city their freshly baked loaves, but they’re asking people across the city for once to give up their daily bread this Friday. Instead, they want fellow New Yorkers to stand in solidarity with them and feed the resistance, because Homeland Security is getting ready to raid their kitchen.
Since March, the workers have baked under a cloud of fear. The management has told them to present proper employment papers by April 21 or be fired. Coming amid President Trump’s anti-immigrant crackdown, workers are fighting for their jobs and the lives they’ve made in this country. With or without legal status, workers have a better way of proving their right to stay.
At a rally in front of the bakery earlier this month, backed by local lawmakers and activists, Tom Cat worker Librada Antigua proclaimed, “The Trump administration may want us to disappear, but we’re not leaving our children for anything. Our unity is our strength, and our commitment is to victory.”
The management initially eased up on the identification checks, allowing an extension from the original deadline to prepare their legal cases and brace for possible layoffs. But workers have nevertheless continued their campaign with the planned mass bread-fast protest to defend the targeted workers tomorrow. And beyond their immediate plight, Tom Cat’s workers are a canary in Trump’s coal mine as ICE intensifies its deportation drive, with a sharp rise in arrests of immigrants without criminal records reported in the New York region.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has threatened to cut off federal funding for cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. As local governments buck pressure from Homeland Security, the stand-off unfolds more subtly in local workplaces, which will be a frontline for testing employers’ willingness to resist Trump and face the political and legal risks.