More on Legal

One, in Fogo de Chao v. Department of Homeland Security (2014), Judge Kavanaugh dissented from the majority opinion, which held that Brazilian churrasqueiro chefs and servers qualified for L-1B “specialized knowledge” visas. The restaurant (a Brazilian steakhouse) had claimed that these workers were eligible for L-1B visas on the ground that “a cook ‘born in America’ cannot learn to cook Brazilian steaks as well as a Brazilian-born person.” The majority agreed with the restaurant.

The majority of judges actually agreed? And it’s supposed to be a great victory for liberalism to assume that Brazilians have steak-grilling in their blood? What’s next, arguing that Mexican women are born with superior toilet-cleaning skills?

This is egregiously racist and outright disgusting.

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21 thoughts on “More on Legal”

  1. Ha. I read somewhere that the market for Indian cooks in the US is getting saturated, and it’s not easy to get a visa based upon that skill. So, they’ve started applying for visas claiming expertise in Nepalese cuisine. Which is similar in many ways.

    I’ve seen so many ‘Himalayan Restaurant’ type places open up in the past few years. Their menu is your standard north indian menu + yak (yak butter, yak meat curries).

    Even the names are similar.

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      1. That’s the case with my favorite Indian restaurant in Baltimore. It’s a very standard Indian menu but the restaurant calls itself Nepalese. I wondered why that was.

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        1. There was a case in the UK a few years ago where the owner of a Bangladeshi restaurant was making the case for more visas because he didn’t pay his cooks shit and they would quit the second they could. There was a bunch of stuff that only growing up there could a person learn the subtleties involving the combinations of spices etc.
          But basically he just didn’t want to pay his employees (and I suspect something similar here).

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        2. There was an L and O episode where a dipomat was able to bring in someone from his country in order to cook a certain kind of African dish. It’s an allowable loophole in the law. There is a similar one for shepards from Peru who work in remote areas and foothills in the interior of California.

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  2. It’s not racism, but rather a question of definitions and how much conservative justices want to let the business community run amok. Let’s say there are no schools that teach Brazilian cuisine in the US. I certainly don’t know of any. The restaurant requires that and argues that they have to import people because they can’t find trained help in the US. Could they train the help? Of course, in the same way that you can train programmers and database specialists instead of importing them. However, that takes time and time is money, so the business argues that the restriction on importing skilled people represents an undue financial hardship. Given time, virtually ANY skill can be taught, undercutting the argument for importing anyone. Having met some mediocre chefs, I don’t see the restaurant’s argument as any worse than the arguments tech companies make.

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    1. I was recently told right here on the blog that I’m not qualified to do queer studies because I’m not queer and I heard a lot in the past that I’m a substandard hispanist because I’m not Hispanic. Once you begin to believe in ineffable essences codified in human biology, you can’t avoid reaching this kind of conclusions. Modern liberalism has chosen to believe in essences above all.

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      1. Yeah, but you didn’t address Vic’s point. It seems like a question of training costs.

        Can’t americans program in Java? Can’t americans get PhDs? Why import anyone to do any job, then?

        “The majority noted its “puzzlement” over Kavanaugh’s position. “Fogo de Chao’s position here is simply that it needs Gasparetto to help train those American chefs in churrascaria techniques and knowledge,’’ the majority said, “and to perform the service- and team-related skills that Fogo de Chao says have proven particularly difficult to transfer.’’

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        1. I do NOT see how hard it can be to learn to cook that menu. They have to train people in Brazil, too. Not everybody is born a steak griller. This is ridiculous.

          Also, as I have always said, because I am a carbon-based life form, I must be a qualified biologist, right? I know all about biology because I am biological. I also know everything about US history and literature, and much much more here, because I am from the US.

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          1. “I do NOT see how hard it can be to learn to cook that menu”

            Isn’t it an immigration scam? I’ve heard (in Europe) of business owners who arrange visas for people who are then obliged to work for some period of time for no or very little pay). After the arrival works off the fee they go into business for themselves (if they can legalize their stay) or disappear into ethnic ghettos and the underground economy if they can’t.

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            1. “Isn’t it an immigration scam? ”

              This is not a hole-in-the-wall place trying to bring in friends and family to the US.

              “It is now owned by Thomas H. Lee Partners, a private equity firm, and operates 19 restaurants in the United States.”

              Profit is their only motive.

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              1. ““It is now owned by Thomas H. Lee Partners, a private equity firm, and operates 19 restaurants in the United States.”

                Profit is their only motive.”

                • But that’s how it always is. The idea of ineffable essences is always used in service of generating greater profits, underpaying people, treating people like commodities, etc. It wouldn’t be so powerful otherwise.

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          2. “Also, as I have always said, because I am a carbon-based life form, I must be a qualified biologist, right? I know all about biology because I am biological. I also know everything about US history and literature, and much much more here, because I am from the US.”

            • Exactly. I’m a native speaker of Russian but I can’t teach Slavic Studies worth a dick. I tried but I’m hopeless.

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        2. To give an example, I was “imported” because I had an unmatched record of publications and scholarly degrees and achievements. That’s one thing. Hiring me over US applicants for a job in Ukrainian Studies because I was born in Ukraine would be an entirely different thing.

          This bothers me because I’m in a field where an argument that people like me are less qualified than those who are “born Hispanic” exists and has been made. It hasn’t been successful but it’s a strong current of opinion that I keep encountering. And the same argument is rearing its ugly head in the field of queer studies that I’m interested in.

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  3. It is not true that an American wouldn’t be able to learn how to cook Brazilian food. But I think it would be difficult to find someone who knows how to do this and do it well (at present.)

    This is setting aside what employers are willing to pay for these positions.

    Ha. I read somewhere that the market for Indian cooks in the US is getting saturated, and it’s not easy to get a visa based upon that skill. So, they’ve started applying for visas claiming expertise in Nepalese cuisine. Which is similar in many ways.
    You’ve got to differentiate yourself somehow from all the other Indian restaurants :p. Also I think they keep the same North Indian dishes on there because people expect them, regardless of whether Nepalis eat them or not or how “authentic” it is. The average person who goes to these places will not know but will wonder where the chicken tikka is.

    “Himalyan Spices.” “Himalayan Herbs.” It’s lunchtime, I’m hungry so I think this is a euphemism for weed.

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    1. “The average person who goes to these places will not know but will wonder where the chicken tikka is.”

      • Exactly. 🙂

      I always say that you have to have borscht in your blood to be able to cook it but I wouldn’t want anybody to base their hiring practices on this poetic imagery because this is a very slippery slope. As I keep saying, it’s especially slippery for people like me.

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    2. Fogo de chao is basically steaks and salads, and a few side dishes. The only Brazilian dish that is at all complex is the feijoada and they have a standard recipe for it, to make at all outlets. If they needed people to cook Bahian food or something like that, who had been to culinary school, knew where to source ingredients, etc., then it is very possible that there wouldn’t be enough Americans with that training — . But Fogo de Chão is a chain restaurant with a few standard, simple recipes. This is all so disingenuous! Maybe it is an immigration scam, as Cliff says, I don’t know…

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      1. BUT I will bet that part of what they are selling in US is the idea of authenticity, the idea that their steaks and they way they are cooked have the ineffable Brazilian essence. Brazil is different, not like the US and not like Spanish America, and it also likes to market exoticism, so… !

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        1. “BUT I will bet that part of what they are selling in US is the idea of authenticity, the idea that their steaks and they way they are cooked have the ineffable Brazilian essence. Brazil is different, not like the US and not like Spanish America, and it also likes to market exoticism, so… !”

          • And that’s why it bugs me. BUGS ME.

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          1. It’s packaged “authenticity.” For example, no Indian eats an “appetizer” of papad and chutney at home. There’s no such thing. But Americans expect some kind of free munchies so that’s why you see it at Indian restaurants. North Indians also don’t eat buckets of rice and it doesn’t really go with the entrees most people order. But Americans want to feel like they’re getting value.

            A while ago, I was out with my family at an Indian restaurant downtown. At the next table over, the owner brought over a handful of raw Thai chilis with salt in a plate and told the table that’s how they finish meals “traditionally”. [I have never seen this in my life, at at any Indian restaurant or at my friends’ homes, but maybe that guy eats like that?] I started laughing. “That’s so mean,” my mother said. “No, no, they’ll love it. They think it’s authentic.”

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          2. And yet I like it when all the cooks and servers at a restaurant are really from the country the cuisine is from, or from a tightly knit immigrant community — I claim it is because they have the authentic food but if I’m honest I have to admit I also like the feeling of being abroad

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