Workers, detained by ICE last year, file lawsuit against restaurant

Press release

from Defensa Comunitaria

Five workers detained last November during a raid by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) will file a lawsuit today against their former employers, Shogun Buffet and Hibachi Grill, of Asheville, Inc., and Jian and Sandy Wang, who subjected them to inhumane working conditions and withheld tens of thousands of dollars in wages. Shogun employees report substandard working and housing environments, including 12 hour work days without meal breaks or overtime pay. On November 29, 2011, ICE detained these workers and seven others as they prepared to start their work day at Shogun Buffet. One year later, the “Shogun Five” and their supporters continue to fight for relief from deportation as well as justice from their former employers.

“We have been treated like criminals, rather than hard workers sustaining our families and community,” said Osvaldo Solis, one of the five plaintiffs in today’s suit, all of whom were detained in last year’s raid. An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor confirmed that Solis and others were victims of wage and hour violations, and workers have reported slave-like working and living conditions. All five also find themselves currently embroiled in deportation proceedings, despite ICE officials’ repeated public statements in recent months indicating their agency’s intention to close the “low-priority” cases of hard-working women and men who contribute to their communities and pose no threat to public safety.

The workers, along with the attorney arguing their suit, will hold a press conference at noon on Friday, November 30, in front of Shogun Buffet and Hibachi Grill on 1000 Brevard Rd., Asheville, NC, addressing their ongoing efforts to resist the separation of their families and fight back against wage theft and other labor abuses.

Defensa Comunitaria, an Asheville-based immigrant rights group supporting and organizing with the workers, is calling for the immediate closure of all five immigration cases and for the payment of all withheld wages. “We will support the Shogun Five at every step as they fight against human rights abuses and labor violations. Papers or not, we all have the right to a life and jobs with dignity and we will continue holding the Obama administration accountable for its broken promises,” said Loida Ginocchio-Silva, an undocumented immigrant and organizer with Defensa Comunitaria. A growing chorus of supporters throughout the country is also calling for these cases to be dropped. DreamActivist.org, a national network of undocumented immigrant youth providing support for other immigrants fighting deportation, has joined with local supporters to denounce the injustice against the Shogun Five and to continue public pressure on ICE to close its cases against them.

An online petition can be found at http://action.dreamactivist.org/northcarolina/shogun/.

The Shogun Five are a vital part of the Asheville community, who deserve justice for their labor abuses and from an oppressive immigration enforcement system, say Comunitaria representatives. “Today marks the one-year anniversary of the raid and I feel we are waking up from the ‘American Dream’; our hopes and dreams have been destroyed,” said Osvaldo Solis. Altogether, the Shogun 5 have a message to ICE: “You are so lucky that you do not live in our shoes, but if you were to walk in our shoes, you would have learned about dignity. You persecute people that shouldn’t be persecuted. You are persecuting workers.”


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