Ex-Food Network star says Trump scares immigrants, shrinking the workforce

Restaurant owner and former Food Network star Willie Degel says while small business confidence is up under President Donald Trump, there are some policies — particularly his views on immigration that are scaring his employees and could be detrimental to businesses across the country.

“They’re here already. We don’t want to throw them out. We can’t get rid of them because who is replacing them? Who else is going to do these jobs?” Degel tells FOX Business.

Degel, who own and runs six restaurants under the Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse brand, says he employs several hundred legal immigrants and they have been terrified in recent months under Trump.

“We need them in a sense, so getting them scared because I know their scared because I employ 300 people. I have landscapers that work on my property, masons and everyone is terrified.  People have lost a lot of their workers [because] a lot of people have left and now the workforce is getting smaller. It has shrunk,” he says.

Legal immigrants have faced unprecedented challenges to come and stay in the U.S. under the Trump administration — with a lot attention focused on what will happen to people in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Last year, Trump tried to end the program, a policy that protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children from deportation, but gave Congress six months to develop a legislative fix, which hasn’t happened yet.

Trump on Wednesday told the Latino Coalition Legislative Summit in Washington that he is “ready, willing and able” to strike a deal with Congress, but the “Democrats are nowhere to be found.”

“We are trying to have a DACA victory for everybody,” the president said. “Go push those Democrats. I'm telling you.”

Degel added that while he agrees with Trump’s view on getting those with a criminal record out of the country, a majority of immigrants are truly here to work.

“Listen, I employ a lot of Latin American people and they come here and they work hard. They want to live the American dream and my people want to do it the right way. They’re not looking for a free ride. They want to pay their taxes,” he says, adding that he hopes the president sets up a system to get the good ones legalized as “fast as possible.”