The Volokh Conspiracy

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About the Restaurant Revitalization Fund's Minority Preferences…


In a very unsympathetic portrait of America First Legal, founded by former Trump administration official Stephen Miller, the Washington Post notes the following:

Three weeks after AFL challenged the aid to minority farmers, it turned to an even larger federal program: the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which gave women, minorities and veterans a head start to submit applications for nearly $29 billion in pandemic relief. The suit argued that the fund was likely to run out of money before White restaurant owners got a chance to apply and thus discriminated against them.

A federal court in Texas agreed in late May of 2021, as did an appeals court in Tennessee that reviewed a similar lawsuit. At the same time, Gregory León, the son of a Venezuelan immigrant and the owner of Amilinda restaurant in Milwaukee, received notice that he would receive $285,000 from the fund to help him get through the pandemic-related downturn. Just two weeks later, as León struggled to pay vendors, he was among about 3,000 restaurant owners who got another government letter: The fund had been quashed by litigation.

León said he seriously considered closing down.

"I know the pandemic didn't care what your race was, but it definitely affected certain people harder than others. This country was built on the backs of immigrants," he said. "I find it quite shocking that people like Stephen Miller don't see that … The message is that if you're not White you're not welcome in this country and you do not deserve opportunity."

Below is Mr. Leon, from a picture on his restaurant's website. Mr. Leon's father is from Venezuela; his mother is Jewish and from Wisconsin. Note that under federal law, "Hispanics" are, for rather obvious reasons, deemed an ethnicity who could be of any race. Is there is a good reason Mr. Leon's restaurant should be ahead in line for government aid over one owned by the child of a Bulgarian, Moroccan, Finnish, or Irish immigrant, or for that matter anyone else?