President Trump’s immigration crackdown has taken another prized Mexican-food purveyor. Piro Garcia, who used to run two widely celebrated taco trucks in south Houston, was rounded up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials last month. Garcia has been in the U.S. since 1994, when he fled his home country of Guatemala at the end of its brutal civil war. NPR reports that he ended up in Houston, where he started as a restaurant cook; he then built a thriving taqueria business, while “living out the immigrant success story” under Trump’s predecessors Clinton, Bush, and Obama. A few weeks ago, though, he was prepping one of his trucks for breakfast when four ICE agents appeared in ballistic vests, cuffed him, and hauled him away. NPR says he’s at a detention center in Houston, awaiting deportation.
Locals tell NPR that he’s a “good” and “hard-working” guy, who had a nice family and “always helped people.” “Everybody loves his tacos,” which have 4.9 out of 5 stars on Facebook. Houstonians who frequented the trucks are asking how Garcia qualifies as one of the “bad ones” Trump talked about in his address to Congress last week — the “gang members, drug dealers, and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our very innocent citizens.”
A friend of Garcia’s has created a GoFundMe donation page that’s already raised almost $5,000 to help offset his legal fees, but it doesn’t sound like many in the community are super hopeful, in part because he’s had a few minor scrapes with the law — a misdemeanor assault charge, trespassing, and a fake vehicle-inspection sticker. He’s never been arrested for anything except his immigration status, though. To keep the taco business going for now, his wife Rosie is working 15-hour days, and running both trucks by herself.