On Tuesday evening, one day after defending the Trump administration's policy of separating immigrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen unironically decided to dine at MXDC Cocina Mexicana, a Mexican restaurant in D.C. — because nothing gives you cravings for carne asada like the wails of children crying for their mothers!
But before Nielsen could finish her meal and perhaps order some tres leches, she was greeted by a crowd of protesters, demanding she step down from Homeland Security. In a video posted on the Metro D.C. Democratic Socialists of America's Facebook page, Nielsen can be seen sitting at a small, candlelit table, head down and looking at a phone while protesters chant "Shame! Shame!"
Protesters taunted Nielsen with signs (one read "No Human Is Illegal") and questions about what her salary is. "Aren't you a mother, too?" one protester asked. "How do you sleep at night?" asked another. Maybe she lulls herself to sleep with the ambient noise of rattling chainlink fences and weeping kids?
Allison Hrabar, a member of MDCDSA's steering committee, told Refinery29 in a phone interview that the organization received a tip that Nielsen was dining at the restaurant and quickly assembled a group of protesters. Hrabar said that while some diners were rolling their eyes at them, others joined in with their chants, some clapping at their tables and standing up with them.
"I think people were really receptive to our message," she said. "We've never won rights for people by being polite."
The heckling went on for some time before authorities were called, but no arrests were made.
Nielsen decided the food of the people she is complicit in committing human rights violations against wasn't worth the public shaming, as she swiftly left the restaurant with her security detail.
In a statement to Refinery29, MDCDSA called the administration's zero-tolerance immigration policy "brutal and draconian."
“We will not stand by and let Secretary Nielsen dine in peace, while she is directing her employees to tear little girls away from their mothers and crying boys away from their fathers at our border,” Margaret McLaughlin, also a member of MDCDSA's steering committee, said. “Secretary Nielsen and everyone else who has carried out these brutal and cold-blooded orders to rip apart families should never be allowed to eat and drink in public again. These barbarous acts must end and those at the helm must be held accountable. While Secretary Nielsen’s dinner may have been ruined, it is nothing compared to the horrors she has inflicted on innocent families.”
Since the administration instituted the hardline policy in early May, 2,342 children have been separated from their parents, according to NPR. There are nearly 11,000 migrant children in the custody of Health and Human Services. The administration has simultaneously defended the policy and denied responsibility for it, with the administration blaming the "law" on Democrats. (There is in fact no such law.)
Refinery29 has reached out to MXDC for comment and will update this story when we hear back.
This story was originally published on June 19, 2018 at 11:49 p.m. It has since been updated.