New York man threatens to report Spanish-speaking staff to authorities

BBC News
Facebook Local media report that the man seen in the video is a New York-based lawyer

A video of a man threatening to report Spanish-speaking restaurant workers to US immigration authorities in New York has gone viral on social media.

The footage shows a customer berating staff for speaking Spanish at the premises in Manhattan.

"Your staff are speaking Spanish to customers when they should be speaking English," he tells one employee.

He then threatens to call the US deportation force, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

"My guess is they're not documented, so my next call is to ICE to have each one of them kicked out of my country," he says.

Other patrons at the restaurant can be seen laughing at the man during the incident on Tuesday, which was captured in footage posted on Facebook and contains some strong language.

Social media users have strongly criticised the man in the video, who local media report is a New York-based lawyer.

This man was upset to hear someone speaking Spanish...in New York City. Once again I thought I was reading the Onion. https://t.co/RzZmlNi3Th

End of Twitter post by @ClaudiaRivero10

A man. Living in MANHATTAN. Is freaked out by hearing languages other than English being spoken. https://t.co/1N7rfULFYo

End of Twitter post by @pattonoswalt

ICE later criticised the recorded threat to report workers to the agency.

"ICE's Tip Line is solely for the purposes of making legitimate reports of suspected criminal activity," Rachael Yong Yow, the spokeswoman for the New York field office of ICE told the New York Times.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wrote on Twitter that the city's diversity was its strength, adding that it was home to people who share more than 200 languages.

New York City's diversity is our strength. It's what makes this city great. The 8.6 million people who call this city home speak more than 200 languages – they’re all New Yorkers and they’re all welcome here.

End of Twitter post by @NYCMayor

There are currently 56.5 million Hispanic Americans in the US, according to the Pew Research Centre.

Trump's immigration crackdown

The US contains a highly diverse population, the product of numerous and sustained waves of migration.

Ethnic and racial diversity - the "melting pot" - is celebrated as a core element of the American ideology.

Hispanics from central and southern Americas are among those seeking the promise of prosperity and freedom which remains one of the defining hallmarks of "the American dream".

However during his campaign for presidency, Donald Trump pledged to construct a border wall with Mexico and described Mexican-Americans as "drug dealers, criminals and rapists".

In January, Mr Trump sparked outrage when he reportedly used crude language to describe foreign countries in an Oval Office meeting.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump said that immigrant gangs are "animals, not people".

The president added that the US has the "dumbest immigration laws in the world".

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