ICE Raids and the Restaurant Industry

Brooke Duplantier, Loyola Marymount University
Jodi Finkel, Loyola Marymount University


Since 2017, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has increased immigration raids in cities across the United States. At a time of labor shortage within the restaurant industry, restaurants owners, employees, and consumers have expressed concern over ICE raids, resulting in the “Sanctuary Restaurant” movement. My research asks, what is the profile of restaurants that are targeted by ICE raids? Specifically, I explore if the category of “ethnic” restaurants experience ICE raids more frequently than other restaurants. Ethnic restaurants are often perceived by consumers to be “authentic” due to the appearance of the staff at the restaurant, which may or may not consist of immigrants. I examine this assumption from the perspective of the federal government’s immigration practices, hypothesizing that the perception of ethnic restaurants can place them at increased risk of ICE raids. To trace the number of raids on restaurants and the category of restaurants experiencing the raids, I collect data on ICE raids in restaurants from 2017-2019, through newspaper articles and yearly ICE reports. Additionally, I compare ICE worksite enforcement under President Bush, Obama, and Trump’s administrations. This research will provide a deeper understanding of ICE raids and increased visibility for the impact of these raids on the restaurant industry.