warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

D.C. Cafe Invested In Immigration Reform

Brianna Sacks |
September 16, 2012 | 5:50 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Le Caprice staff have a lot riding on this election. (Le Caprice DC/Facebook)
Le Caprice staff have a lot riding on this election. (Le Caprice DC/Facebook)

The staff at Le Caprice Cafe in Washington, D.C., have a keen interest in this presidential election, but there is one issue that hits particularly close to home—most of them come from immigrant families, or are immigrants themselves, and all are waiting to see what happens with immigration reform. 

"These are people who don't have time to, or don't really follow American politics," said Farhang Erfani, one of the owners of Le Caprice Cafe. "They have big hopes, but they have no illusion that this reelection will help them." 

Erfani and his parents opened the cafe six months ago in Columbia Heights, one of D.C.'s most racially diverse neighborhoods, and say business is good. Erfani was born in Iran and is now an American citizen. Even though his parents are not, Erfani said they are very involved in American politics.  

"We are political junkies," he said of his family. "I voted for Obama the first time. I went out when it was rainy and waited [in line] for historic reasons. I am not a registered democrat; I do it for my family, to perform a civic duty. I'm glad I can help."

Erfani has a second job outside the cafe. He is an assistant professor in American University's Department of Philosophy, where he teaches political philosophy. Erfani has a B.A., M.A. and a Ph.D in philosophy.

Even though he will be voting to re-elect the incumbent in November, Erfani said, "It will not be for business reasons." There are other issues that will determine his vote instead. 

"I care about [Obamacare] very deeply," Erfani said. "My parents are small business owners and they cannot afford health insurance. It is so outrageously expensive they might have to drop the private one they currently have, and they are both in their sixties."
While Erfani is pro-Obamacare, he said he knows why many Americans oppose it—they don't understand it. "I can't figure out what this health care law is like, and I've read it," he said.

According to Conservapedia, a Republican information site, "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, will impose massive penalties on young workers, small businesses and others who choose not to buy expensive health insurance."

But Erfani said the Republican's stance on health care is flawed.

"Anyone who says a lack of health care is a question of freedom has certain ideological problems they need to address. I would hope the health care law stands for the sake of my parents and my employees," he said.

The Erfani family's employees come from many cultural backgrounds, and are all intensely watching what happens with immigration reform.

"The fact that young [immigrants] are no longer expelled is a grand change, something that many of my employees were directly or indirectly affected by," Erfani said. "They were very happy."

But Erfani also said his employees don't expect much more in terms of immigration reform because "they know the system is not favorable toward them." 

Le Caprice's employees also understand that Obama and Romney disagree on certain aspects of immigration, and for the moment, these issues hang in the balance. Erfani said his employees are happy things are moving in a certain direction, and fear things will fall apart if Romney is elected.

"They don't expect much," Erfani said. "It's hard to imagine getting a second movement. They know what Obama did was a once-in-generation thing and they will probably have to wait 10 years before another gesture is made towards illegal immigrants. They are hard-nose realists."


Reach Staff Reporter Brianna Sacks here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.