Lewiston restaurant's fate unknown after arrests

LEWISTON — The fate of a local Mexican restaurant whose owner was arrested this week was unknown Friday.

At Hacienda El Patron, the windows were dark, the parking lot was empty and the restaurant's phone rang unanswered.

Owner Guillermo Fuentes was arrested Wednesday on charges of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens and hiring unauthorized aliens after raids in Mexican restaurants in Westbrook, Biddeford and Waterville. His brother Hector was also charged.

"Williams Fuentes" is listed on the restaurant's website as Hacienda El Patron's owner, along with business partners. Guillermo Fuentes is listed as restaurant manager in city records and the owner as an entity named Hacienda Del Patron Inc.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Clark said Friday the Lewiston restaurant wasn't part of Wednesday's raid.

According to a news release from Clark's office, Guillermo Fuentes owns The Fajita Grill in Westbrook and his brother owns the Cancun Mexican Restaurant in Waterville and Cancun Mexican Restaurant II in Biddeford. They were arrested after an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Department of Labor.

A post on The Fajita Grill's Facebook page Friday afternoon said it had closed and hoped to reopen next week.

Fuentes was freed on bail Thursday, according to an official at the Cumberland County Jail. Hacienda El Patron on Lisbon Street was formerly Margarita's.

kskelton@sunjournal.com

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Comments

KRIS KUCERA's picture

Awe, man, that really stinks.

Hacienda El Patron was by far my favorite place to go in L-A, along with Wei-Li. The food was very good and mostly authentic, and the staff -- I prefer to call these illegal aliens "mis amigos" -- was the part that I like the most. They were so friendly, and made every effort to make my meals delicious and my visits a pleasure. I have also appreciated their willingness to help me learn more Spanish by conversing with me in Spanish and teaching me new words. To Yolanda, Manuel, Ivan, Ramiro and the rest of mis amigos, I hope you are all doing all right. Salud!

All they're tying to do is make a living. I know the law's the law, but man, what a bummer. Now all I can taste in my mouth is American xenophobia.

John Frecker's picture

Xenophobia?

This whole situation points up the fact that the employers and employees in this case are people. They seem to be popular in the neighborhood, but the criminal charges are serious and have to be dealt with. As a retired Border Patrol Agent I know that the immigration agencies wouldn't have taken these actions if they didn't have very good evidence of criminal activity. More often than not, ICE ignores minor violations of the immigration laws when they could have taken action.

There are, no doubt, some Americans who are xenophobic, but America isn't xenophobic. We admit aliens from all around the world, more than any other country. A large majority of us, including the Congresses and the Presidents who passed and signed our immigration laws, believe that we should regulate who comes to this country and under what conditions. Our immigration laws are there for a reason and should either be enforced or changed. I prefer the former.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

Obivously, I can't questoin your expertise

And after I posted, I did think about the malfeasance of the employer. My problem, however, is much of America is indeed xenophobic -- look at the right-wing bashing right-wing Perry's getting for him admirably looking at "illegals'" situation and realizing that at the end of the day, they workers themselves are productive people trying to improve their lives and ultimately benefit America. (Remember that Reagan gave amnesty to three million of 'em, although his provisions were stripped by the xenophobic Congress.) Imagine the price of fruit, yard care, housekeeping, nannying, etc. if we didn't utilize their hard work ethics and willingness to work the lowest paying jobs that many -- not all -- whites raise their nose at. And even then, they send much of their hard-earned dollars to relatives back home.

Regardless, you have good points, John. I realized we can't let everybody in. But it is a shame that people who risk everything just for a chance to live here -- even illegally -- and improve their often rather hopeless lives are sent packing when the gig is up. And while the GOP doesn't court the Latino vote, they should -- many Latinos are strict Catholics (with the addition of the Virgin Mary as a deity too) and rather conservative. Fortunately for a liberal like me, the GOP hasn't figured that one out yet. Phew.

Interestingly, as our economy has struggled and Mexico's has slightly improved, relatively speaking, illegal immigration is down sharply. More testament that it is worth having smart foreign policy to help Mexico do better, which benefits us too.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870388230457546574267098564...

At the end of the day, I hope Hacienda reopens, and the same smiling faces of humans being are still there. (Their carnitas are to die for.)

John Frecker's picture

Definitions.

I don't want to turn this into a chat room, but, to me, this business of xenophobia is important. Among other things, it's one of the terms that those who support illegal aliens use when they want to disparage those of us who support more immigration enforcement. As with so many other terms in the "immigration debate" - "comprehensive immigration reform", "amnesty", "immigrant", etc. - perhaps we have different definitions. My 2003 edition of Webster's New World Dictionary defines xenophobia as ..."fear or hatred of strangers or foreigners". That doesn't apply to me nor, do I believe, does it apply to most Americans. Many of us, including me, can accurately be called "restrictionists"; we want to stop (restrict) as much illegal immigration as possible and we want to reduce (restrict) legal immigration to replacement numbers.

The illegal aliens who come here, with rare exceptions, have no concern about what's beneficial for this country. They come here to make money, most of which is sent "home" and out of our economy in the form of "remittances". Remittances to Mexico have recently been about $20 billion dollars per year. Billion$$$ more go to other countries every year. The "American Dream", to almost all illegal aliens, is the dream of making lots of money in the U.S. so that they can send it home and return there someday with a tidy nest egg.

As for helping Mexico, that has been an "effort in futility" in the past. They rebuff most offers of assistance as meddling in their internal affairs. (Although they do it all the time here.) If we send them money to address specific problems, more often than not it just winds up in the pockets of the "rich and powerful" folks in Mexico.

My wife does her own housework; I do my own yardwork; I don't even know anyone who has a nanny; and I would gladly pay a little more for produce and other goods if it meant we could end illegal immigration. If there wasn't such a large pool of illegal labor in this country, employers would have to offer better pay and working conditions and more Americans would take the jobs, as they always did in the past.

KRIS KUCERA's picture

I patently disagree with your statement.

Your, yes, xenophobic comment: "The "American Dream", to almost all illegal aliens, is the dream of making lots of money in the U.S. so that they can send it home and return there someday with a tidy nest egg." Hogwash.

Tell that to Cesar Milan and many more like him, who came here illegally to make it and stay here to raise families. So much for the Statue of Liberty, I guess.

I find your first sentennce of your last paragragh rather solipsistic; and if you think whites are gonna pick the bulk of US fruit and vegetables you're kidding yourself. Heck, how many whites right here in L-A are sitting back collecting welfare when they could work if they chose to? At least illegals come here to work.

All right, enough from me. Happy weekend.

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