“A safe space:” Milwaukee restaurants stand up for immigrants, offer sanctuary for all

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MILWAUKEE -- A place to eat and work for all. Some Milwaukee restaurants are taking a stand on immigration and they're joining a national movement.



We've heard of sanctuary cities. Now, restaurants are joining the conversation on immigration. The food industry is made up largely of undocumented workers, but a national movement is providing a safe space.

The chairs were empty, plates clean, and food was being prepped ahead of opening time at Milwaukee's Amilinda on Tuesday, February 28th. Just outside along Wisconsin Avenue, there's a sign that greets customers.

"For the most part, it's been very well received," said Chef Greggory Leon.

Greggory Leon

Greggory Leon

The sign denotes the eatery as a "sanctuary restaurant."

"It's important for me to be able to use this space as a safe space for other people who need it," said Leon.

Sanctuary restaurants have become part of a national movement opposing President Donald Trump's immigration reform, and offering a haven for employees and customers.



Amilinda is one of the first in Milwaukee.

"I feel like it's my duty as the son and grandson of immigrants to help other immigrants in this country," said Leon.

The National Cafe

The National Cafe

The owner of the The National Cafe said they, too, support the initiative. It's something their customers also believe in.

"I definitely try to be as conscious as I can of places that are open and accepting, and certainly sanctuary restaurants is something important to me," said Arlene Bjugstad, customer.

According to a new study, 1.1 million undocumented people work in the food industry -- something Leon knows first-hand.

The National Cafe

The National Cafe

"The restaurant industry in this country was built on the backbones of immigrants, and anybody that says otherwise has not either worked in a restaurant or hasn't been out to eat," said Leon.


  • Gdogg

    There is a big difference between immigrants and illegal aliens. It appears that this restaurant and the media continue to incorrectly use the word immigrant for illegal aliens. Burglars are not uninvited house guests.

  • Voice of Reason

    Yeah perfect for restaurant owners. Hire and then pay the illegals below minimum wage because they can’t turn the restaurant owners in because they risk being deported! Then tell people you are running a sanctuary restaurant!!

  • marcus wilson

    What an idiot! His relatives that came over didn’t come in along the southern border. It’s people like this moron that keep this illegal system working. I believe that every one deserves legal status not border hoppers that try to blend in. How are you going to protect these illegals when they are arrested on your side walk? I never heard of greasy spoon establishments offering sanctuary. Be careful about who you let in you could have trouble and then what do you do? Go back to school junior your 5 th grade class is still waiting for you. what a way to attract paying guests to your fine diner


    I definitely will not be dining here anymore OR any other places that think it’s ok to hire or hide ILLEGAL immigrants. These types of business owners are only worried about having to pay the minimum wage and benefits. They’re the same ones who complain about how minimum wages should be raised because what the hell do they

  • Wil Masterson

    I hope someone can build and post a comprehensive list of these businesses! That way, I know which businesses I will NEVER spend my money at ever again! I hope ICE goes to these places to eat… and round up all the illegal aliens!

  • rocking aunt

    Well a win win for the restaurants hire the illegals and hide them. Pay them crap wages and they are to scared to tell. Because they are ILLEGAL not just immigrants. ILLEGAL immigrants. No problems here with immigrants .Only ILLEGAL immigrants. Getting crap wages, using fake ss #’s to get assistance. Why live in constant fear and pay out so much money for fakes #’s, ids, etc when you can live without fear by doing things the lawful way? Get paid actual wages? Learn the English language to bust down those communication barriers? As far as the restaurants condoning this, you are stealing from the very LEGAL poor in your community. Don’t come a whining when you get busted for under reporting wages, underpaying wages and loose your staff in a raid.

  • Just My Opinion

    Crossing this restaurant and all other so-called sanctuaries for ILLEGALS off my list of go-to places.

  • kaf

    I call for a boycott as well, though Amilinda’s owner wants to be wishy-washy with liberal double-speak:
    Subject: RE: Message from Kevin O. for Amilinda
    “I believe you are referring to a segment on Fox 6 News which aired yesterday. You’ll notice we never said anything about illegal or undocumented immigrants. Fox 6 may have said some something of the sort. We are safe place for those that feel unsafe, for those that are being bullied or threatened. It’s a safe zone. I believe you are confusing a Sanctuary Restaurant with a Sanctuary City. It would really help yourself and others around you if you became informed before slandering a business.”

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