On Friday morning, United States Attorney General and sentient dried apple doll Jeff Sessions addressed a group of federal law enforcement agency leaders in Houston, praising them for their willingness to enforce this administration’s increasingly draconian immigration laws. And both before and after his speech at the US Attorney’s office, Sessions—the man who announced that “zero tolerance” immigration policy and advocated the separation of parents and children at the US-Mexico border—ate at not one but TWO Mexican restaurants in the city.
His breakfast of huevos rancheros at La Mexicana went largely unnoticed, except on Reddit. “HOLY SHIT, THE GALL ON THIS DUDE,” one Redditor wrote about the AG’s choice of restaurant. “Did Jeff Sessions actually go get breakfast tacos before talking about a nonexistent brown immigrant crime wave? I mean, DAMN, bro.” (Narrator: Yes. Yes, he did.)
But Sessions’ lunchtime fajitas have caused a lot of grief for the El Tiempo restaurant, resulting in online backlash, an apology from the owner, and the hasty deletion of all of its social media profiles.
Shortly after lunch, the restaurant posted a photo of chef and co-owner Domenic Laurenzo with a smiling Sessions. “We had the honor to server [sic] Mr. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General of the United States. Thank you for allowing us to serve you,” El Tiempo wrote, adding an American flag emoji and a #jeffsessions hashtag.
The criticism was swift and unyielding, and a #BoycottElTiempo quickly materialized on Twitter. El Tiempo took the photo down, replacing it with a statement from the president of Laurenzo’s Restaurants, Roland Laurenzo. “El Tiempo does not in anyway support the practice of separating children from parents or any other practices of the government relative to immigration,” he wrote, according to CultureMap Houston. “The posting of a photograph of the Attorney General at one of our restaurants does not represent us supporting his positions [...] It was posted without review or approval by ownership and this has lead to everyone jumping to conclusions that somehow we are involved in this political matter. We don’t approve of anyone separating parents and children.”
Laurenzo said that the restaurant was informed by the Secret Service that a government official would be eating at the restaurant, and that the staff only wanted to give him “great food and great customer service” without “thinking about the political situations.”
That didn’t stop the backlash. Laurenzo then deactivated all of El Tiempo’s social media profiles, at least for now. “In retrospect, it was a mistake because it angered so many people," Laurenzo told KHOU. "We have gotten so many complaints and comments. And threats, death threats. This has been extremely shocking to our family.”
Buuuut… in October 2016, Laurenzo gave the Houston Latino Trump Coalition permission to shoot its music video outside one of those El Tiempo restaurants. (The song, "Despierta Gran America" ("Wake Up, Great America"), was written by the group’s leader, Marri Velasquez, a woman who said that questioning Donald Trump was like questioning God.) “The rally was approved by my father (Roland Laurenzo)," Dominic Laurenzo told the Houston Chronicle at the time. He also told the paper that he supported then-candidate Donald Trump. So one could surmise that maybe they did consider it an honor to serve Jeff Sessions, no?
Welcome to 2018, where even the fajitas come with awkward politics.