The immigrant owners of a Mexican food grill defended Sunday their support for President Trump after receiving threats and negative restaurant reviews for attending his Phoenix rally.
Jorge and Betty Rivas, naturalized U.S. citizens who own Sammy’s Mexican Grill in Catalina, Arizona, said the backlash began after critics circulated a screen-grab on social media of the couple standing behind Mr. Trump at the Feb. 19 rally, with her face circled.
“There have been calls as well threatening us and giving us a hard time because we support the president,” Mr. Rivas told “Fox & Friends.”
Despite being called “evil” and “racists,” and receiving some unflattering restaurant reviews, Mr. Rivas said business has picked up after a few shaky days.
“The first day, a couple of days, it goes down, but like yesterday, we had a very good day,” Mr. Rivas said. “People know that anyone as an American has a right to support whoever they want, they come out and support us in a way that has turned out to be pretty good, thankfully.”
The Rivases make no secret of their Trump support. In a video posted last week on Facebook, they discussed the negative social-media posts and calls while wearing pro-Trump hats in an office decorated with a full-sized Trump cut-out and signs such as “Latinos for Trump.”
“I feel that as naturalized United States citizens, we have the right to support President Trump or to support any other candidate that loves this country,” said Mr. Rivas. “For me, it is very important to support people that have the same values as I do. Just because we are Latinos, it doesn’t mean that we have to think like every other Latino in this country. We are individuals.”
They said a similar backlash occurred in 2016, but that they refused to back down, instead displaying a photo in their restaurant of Mrs. Rivas and Mr. Trump.
“We have never denied or [tried to] hide from what we stand for or what we believe,” Mr. Rivas said. “And we’ve been active. We’ve been going to President Trump’s rally in Phoenix and going to other meetings where Republicans meet.”
Mr. Rivas is from El Salvador, while Mrs. Rivas immigrated from Mexico’s Sonora state, according to KOLD13 News.
Downplaying their support for Mr. Trump “would be an insult,” he said.
“We know who we are,” he said. “We know that it’s important for us to stay out there, to say what we feel. I personally feel that for me, staying quiet, saying, ‘Oh I’m not going to express my opinion because they might attack me,’ that would go against what I believe. That would go against what America stands for.”