Ricardo Aca is getting a lot of attention after sharing a video calling out presidential candidate Donald Trump over his comments about Mexico and immigrants.
Aca, a 24-year-old Mexican immigrant living in New York, wanted to speak out against Trump – even though he believes it might get him fired from his job at Koi SoHo restaurant, which leases space inside the Trump SoHo hotel.
In the video, Aca is shown holding his cellphone, watching Trump call Mexicans who arrive in the U.S. rapists, criminals and drug dealers during his presidential campaign launch in June.
“I know I could lose my job for just talking about Trump,” he said in the video, “but it doesn’t make me proud every day to go to work under his name.”
Aca, who arrived in New York from Puebla, Mexico, at 14 and describes himself as an undocumented immigrant, told the New York Times, “I was offended [by Trump's words] because this is not who we are, this is not who I am, this is not anybody I know who is an immigrant.”
In the video, Aca talks about living in Brooklyn with his family.
“This is where I went to school. This is where all my friends are. It’s home to me,” he said, adding that his family came to the U.S. hoping to find a better life.
Aca was part of a wave of immigrants who were granted deportation protection and work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2012.
He has since received an associate’s degree in photography from LaGuardia Community College, and works as an assistant in a photo lab in addition to his job at Koi and another restaurant in Brooklyn.
“I think Republicans think that Mexicans are lazy, but I personally have two jobs. My step-father works two jobs,” Aca said in the video. “Everything that my family has we have earned by working hard.”
In response to the video, Trump told the Times: “He’s got a legal work permit. I’ve heard he does a good job. We though he was an illegal immigrant at first.”
The GOP candidate was also quick to say that his companies employ only people with proper documentation, and that he would not press Aca’s employer to punish him.
However, he added, “I want to check his file.”
According to the Times, Koi has demanded that the filmmaker Chase Whiteside take the video off YouTube, claiming its title – “Meet Ricardo, an undocumented immigrant who works in a Trump Hotel”– is misleading.
Suzanna Chou, a lawyer for the Koi Group, told the Times that Aca’s statements were also false and defamatory and that they implied that he was working illegally for a Trump hotel.
She said that Koi SoHo is a “third-party tenant.”
“Our company follows the law and if you are eligible to work at Koi, you can apply,” Chou added.
Aca told the Times that shortly after the video was posted, the restaurant’s payroll department called and asked him to bring the renewal of his work permit that he had forgotten to submit in December. He also said that when he walked into the kitchen, the line cooks from Mexico and the sushi chefs from Japan told him they were proud of what he had done.
“It’s important to stand up for what I believe in and to be able to defend myself,” he added. “I do work at Trump SoHo. I have the platform to send this message.”