This year, Brooklyn activist Jeronimo Saldaña has knocked it out of the park with his efforts to combat Donald Trump’s hateful, anti-immigrant rhetoric. Despite peddling an exclusionary and backward vision of America with his “Make America Great Again” hats, they became a must-have ironic fashion accessory last summer. Saldaña came back with his own hat. With a clever flip on Trump’s catchphrase, he started selling “Make America Mexico Again” hats – gear we could conscionably wear. Now, Saldaña’s back with another response cap. This time, he doesn’t a problem with the phrase, but with the message.
Last week, the Mexican-born Latinos for Trump founder Marco Gutierrez denigrated his own people. “My culture is a very dominant culture,” he said while on All In With Chris Hayes. “It is imposing and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.” Since then, the phrase “taco trucks on every corner” has become a rallying cry against Gutierrez and Trump.
Gutierrez’s attempt to instill fear has also backfired, because people love tacos. So his “taco trucks on every corner” actually sounds like utopia for many. It’s why Saldaña’s new hats are emblazoned with the phrase. But the activist also wanted to take the opportunity to use his platform to draw attention to food vendors.
“We do like the idea of a taco truck on every corner and would like to use this opportunity to raise awareness about the hardships faced by street vendors,” Saldaña wrote on his Etsy page. “There are more than 10,000 street vendors in New York City alone – most of whom are immigrants struggling to make ends meet.”
In 1981, Ed Koch limited the number of citywide permits for mobile food carts and trucks to just 3,000 in NYC. According to Crain’s New York, many permit holders renew the licenses and then rent them out – sometimes including the cart – on a black market. Those trying to make an honest living sometimes have to go the black market route, where they may end up paying as much as $20,000 to $30,000 to run their businesses. This system makes it difficult for vendors to have their own autonomy – even if they own their cart. And it overwhelmingly hurts working-class immigrants, who once used the honest work to chase the American Dream. Street vendors also face permit challenges in other parts of the country.
The proceeds of Saldaña’s “Taco Trucks on Every Corner” hat will go to Mijente, so that it can continue organizing Latinx and Chicanx communities. Buy one here for $28.