Undocumented Café Employees Fight Exploitation in ‘The Hand That Feeds’

By Sameer Rao Jun 21, 2016

Undocumented immigrants working in exploitative labor conditions risk deportation if they speak out. Filmmakers Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick’s documentary, "The Hand That Feeds," depicts what happens when a group of restaurant workers take that risk.

Mahoma López worked alongside several undocumented immigrants at a café in Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side neighborhood. Fed up with abusive treatment and supported by both the Laundry Workers Center and Occupy Wall Street members, López and his colleagues organized an independent union while campaigning against worker exploiatation.

"In the early 20th century, immigrants were at the forefront of the labor movement that helped build our middle class," Lears and Blotnick said in a statement e-mailed to Colorlines. "Today, when the fastest growing job sectors are retail and food preparation, the struggles of low-income workers and their families matter more than ever."

"The Hand That Feeds" airs tonight (June 21) on World Channel as part of the "America ReFramed" documentary series. After tonight’s premiere at 8 p.m. ET, the documentary will stream on America ReFramed’s website for 30 days. Watch the trailer here.