Bakeries—and baked goods—become collateral damage in ICE raids

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Manuel Manolo Betancur was tired—but not because his business, Manolo’s Bakery at 4405 Central Ave had been overrun by customers. No, the bakery formerly called Las Delicias had been having the opposite problem in the days since ICE began conducting undercover raids targeting Charlotte’s undocumented immigrant communities.

The number of regulars who came daily to buy fresh Colombian bread or sweet treats had dropped so drastically, the bakery was throwing out dozens of baked goods at the end of each day. Frustrated, Betancur took to social media.  

“Dear member of this community, if you say you care about East Charlotte and you are proud to be part of this welcoming city, come and support our immigrant owned business,” he wrote in a Facebook post Feb. 7. “If you want us here and [want us] to keep contributing to the local economy, please go to your favorite restaurant or bakery and spend a few dollars. Or if you want for us to be out of business and move to another more immigrant friendly state then don’t do anything.”

Courtesy of Manolo’s Bakery
Manuel Manolo Betancur

From Feb. 4-7, ICE officers detained 200 individuals in North Carolina, twelve in Charlotte. The numbers have grown since, with nearly a third of those arrests being categorized as “collateral,” or people who are undocumented and have broken no other laws. Seven North Carolina mayors signed a letter condemning the ICE raids, from the cities of Asheville, Burlington, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Greensboro and Fayetteville. Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles was not among them.

The crackdown has had a massive ripple effect across Charlotte’s immigrant businesses. Betancur said his sales dropped 70 percent in the days immediately after the first raids. Since his outreach on social media, he’s been met with an outpouring of support from Charlotte’s community. Things have improved, but not enough.

“After that post, people from as far as Pineville, Morrisville and Ballantyne have come to support the bakery. It’s been overwhelming to us,” Betancur said.

Still on Feb. 16, a Saturday and normally the shop’s busiest day of the week, the floor was markedly less crowded.

“We sell up to 100 cakes for birthday celebrations and similar events on weekends,” said one of Betancur’s bakers, who is 17. “This Saturday, we sold about 20.”

It was similar to the scene at the Compare Foods bakery on Sharon Amity Road on Friday night. With rumors of ICE targeting the area being posted to social media earlier that day, the bakery, which serves the heavily Latino population in the area was a ghost town.

“There was no one on the streets,” Betancur said. “People are closing their bank accounts and leaving the city.”

Courtesy of Manolo’s Bakery

Anecdotally, ICE’s actions appear to be affecting Charlotte’s small businesses, which support the local economy. Employees are taking time off, for themselves or because they have relatives who were taken by ICE. Betancur said the situation is worse now than the raids of 2017, when agents were arresting parents at school drop-off lines and boarding public transportation.

“That only went on for a few days,” Betancur said. “This is going on three weeks of business declining. We are still thriving, but tax times is coming…We have got to change our mindset and stand with each other. Don’t let fear kill our dreams of a better future.”

17 COMMENTS

  1. This is so heartbreaking that members of the community live in fear of being literally snatched up. The Latino community in East Charlotte community. I am so glad that we have a sheriff such as Garry McFadden that will not be a pawn in this current administrations game to tear families apart. I pray as a community, that we will stand with our neighbors because they are good people and they are a blessing to the QC.

    • Sheriff McFadden not enforcing the 278G immigration law has lead to the increased ICE arrest.
      The only heart break is the people who want to turn Charlotte and North Carolina into the next sanctuary city/state.

      Follow the legal process of immigrating into the country and pay taxes like the legal residents do and you wont have any issues.

    • You got it all wrong. You break the law, you assume the consequences. If you want to come to this country, do it the right way, follow the country’s laws, it is your duty.

    • What part of illegal do you have a problem understanding? We need immigrants, but they must come through legal channels and they must embrace our culture and respect our laws.

      • You mean like we did? You do realize that Mexicans are indigenous to this continent, and unless you are Native American, you are not.

    • Great work ICE!!! Thank you for maintaining law and order. If you are not here legal, go home. Return documented and our arms are open. Simple.

  2. People that are here illegally are not immigrants, they are criminals. Stop with the fake news.

    As to Dawn’s comment, if one is here legally, one has nothing to worry about; but, criminals should always be worried and the laws enforced.

  3. When you do something illegal your family will suffer. It is sad for some think breaking the law is ok. So is Garry Mcfadden turning a blind eye on all the crime in Charlotte? Maybe that’s why the murder rate is up this year so much. People want to live in a safe city. But the fact is the illegals that were round up in raids were criminals. Funny how one sided this is being reported.

  4. E-Verify!……. Be here legally!… All ICE is doing is their job, unlike the new pawn of a “sheriff”.

    By all means support the businesses, but if you’re here illegally, you have to deal with the consequences….

  5. They’re deporting the wrong ones. Let the ones that have come here to do the jobs nobody else will do stay, and start deporting the multi-generational welfare leeches that won’t do anything.

    • How about we deport the illegals and make the “multi-generational welfare leeches” do those jobs instead of giving them government assistance?

    • It’s not that people don’t want to do those jobs. They are taking the jobs by offering services for less money and putting low-income American citizens out of work.

      It blows my mind that people support illegal immigration.

  6. Legal or Illegal? That is the question.

    The sheriff (a LAW ENFORCEMENT officer) is not only actively aiding and abetting illegal alien criminals he is being encouraged to do this by the County Commission.

    Wake up Charlotte we we need to stop the democrats from creating their Sanctuary City!

  7. As a fine journalist maybe you should be checking how many illegal workers he has on his payroll or being paid under the table. It could help with a clearer picture of the cost to those that can’t get these jobs and the effect to our tax dollars?
    Please stop the adgenda journalism it is getting really old or is that what drew you to the profession?
    I doubt it!

  8. It used to be legal to own slaves, and I’m sure all you law-abiding citizens here would be fine with that.
    It used to be illegal for women to vote, and I’m sure all you law-abiding citizens here would be fine with that.
    It used to be illegal to purchase or sell alcohol, and I’m sure all you law-abiding citizens here would be fine with that.
    It used to be legal to make blacks sit on the back of the bus, or use separate restrooms, or move off the sidewalk when a white man walked past, and I’m sure all you law-abiding citizens here would be fine with that.
    It used to be legal to send Japanese-American citizens into internment camps, and I’m sure all you law-abiding citizens here would be fine with that.
    Laws aren’t always good, or right, or just. Some of them are stupid and need to be changed. Stop hiding behind the law all the time.

    • It is the illegals and their supporters hiding behind the laws…. but you’re fine with that.

      It is a slap in the face to the 800,000 to over one million who come here the LEGAL way.

      I don’t care if 5 million each year come to the US. The more the merrier, but come through LEGALLY – the front door.

      Do you lock your doors and windows?

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