Harlan Mexican restaurant back open

By: Katie Roach Email
By: Katie Roach Email

A Mexican restaurant in Harlan County is back open after US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials raided the restaurant last week.

Thirteen workers were taken from the restaurant last Wednesday by ICE after questions arose about if they were legally allowed to be in the US.

Now, some of those workers are back at El Charrito.

El Charrito opened it's doors Thursday for the first time in over a week, and people waited in line just so they could get their Mexican fix.

"We're getting ready to go in here and stand in line and wait," said one customer.

We tried to speak to owner Fransisco Roman, but he declined an interview because he doesn't speak good English.

Tony Noe is a spokesperson for the owner, and he told the Harlan Daily Enterprise that three of the workers signed deportation documents and have been sent back to Mexico.

The other ten were back at work Thursday, but Noe could not say for sure whether they were allowed to be working.

Despite questions of whether or not workers at El Charrito are US citizens, customers we spoke with today are just happy the restaurant is back open.

"We're real happy it's the only place else we have to eat besides Ken and Paul's Steakhouse," said customer Adam Sharp.

"It's the nicest restaurant, they meet and greet people good. It's the only place we eat around here," said customer Allen Fee.

The El Charrito in Cumberland is still closed at this time. There is no word on when it will reopen.

Mountain News is getting some conflicting information with this story.

We've been trying to contact ICE for the past week, and they finally called us back today.

They said they could not release any information because they do not have the lead on the case.

An ICE representative said ICE is only assisting the Harlan County Sheriff's Office and local police.

The Harlan County Sheriff said they had nothing to do with the case, but the Lynch and Benham Police Departments were working on it.

Lynch City Police Chief Mike Nunley said he is working on the case, but can not release any details at this time.

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