Shopkeeper takes stand: Ft. Greene entrepreneur turns storefront into harsh critique of Trump immigration policy

Not in my country: Immigrant entrepreneur Ralph Jawad, who became a United States citizen after arriving in Brooklyn from the Middle East decades ago, hung signs blasting President Donald Trump’s controversial immigration policy outside his Fort Greene deli last week.
Brooklyn Paper
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It’s a bodega without borders.

A Fort Greene deli owner who immigrated to Brooklyn from the Middle East as a toddler turned his storefront into a passionate rebuke of President Donald Trump’s contentious immigration policy that ripped thousands of youngsters from their parents as the migrant families arrived at the country’s southern border.

Entrepreneur Ralph Jawad said he hung signs declaring “Holding kids hostage is an act of terrorism” outside and in the windows of his Lafayette Avenue bodega Ralph’s Deli last week, denouncing the policy he blasted as cruel for tearing apart families that illegally crossed the border — sending the kids and adults to separate detention facilities — even after the Commander-in-Chief signed an executive order on Wednesday that permitted kin to be detained together.

“It’s inhumane,” Jawad said. “People should be speaking up more, but they are scared.”

Jawad arrived in Kings County with his mother, father, and siblings nearly 50 years ago after immigrating from an area in the Middle East he said was then considered part of Jordan, and with his dad opened the deli at the corner of S. Portland Avenue sometime after, he said.

The 54-year-old entrepreneur received his citizenship as a child, he said. And he believes those immigrant children now facing uncertain futures after being taken at the border from their parents — some of whom came seeking asylum for their families — deserve the same opportunities he received back then.

“Everybody needs a chance in life,” Jawad said.

The critical signs decorating his store already sparked a lot of reactions, but all have been positive, according to Jawad, who said neighbors including borough son and filmmaker Spike Lee, whose production company’s offices are just blocks away, quickly took to social media to share photos of the banners after spotting them.

“Customers love it, and people are Instagramming it,” he said. “They’re thanking us for putting it up.”

Jawad said the recent events made him ashamed of the country he calls home — where he had his own tussle with the criminal-justice system after cops busted him for pot and weapon possession in 2012 — because they contradict certain unalienable rights it was founded upon.

“It’s so sad,” he said. “Freedom and justice for all, are you serious?”

And he isn’t the first local entrepreneur to get political — last year, a contingent of business owners on nearby Myrtle Avenue pacified that corridor by placing signs that read “Hate Has No Business Here” in their shops’ windows.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Updated 5:41 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Duke from NY says:
ISIS are the terrorists, his people, where’s that sign? This guy is delusional
June 25, 2018, 4:02 am
Vision Zero from Zero Vision says:
It's bigoted idiots like Duke that elected this turd into office. America is more racist than you'd like to think and drumpf is perpetuating that divide.
June 25, 2018, 6:04 am
Jk from Tba says:
Trump won because of people like vision zero who call people bigot or racist when they know they can’t win an argument. Right out of the Fascist playbook. That’s right, it’s the Left who try to shut down free speech, not the right. The Democrats have been outed as the Commie-Marxists that they are. People are taking notice.
June 25, 2018, 7:10 am
Mustafa Khant from Atlantic Ave says:
Jawad, you can take some of these kids in as a foster parent - or are you all mouth?
June 25, 2018, 7:56 am
Kaylee from Fort Greene says:
This man shouldn’t have voted for Trump then. When he did it he was so happy - but now he is *so sad* !!
June 25, 2018, 8:22 am
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Where was this sign when DemocRATS starting snatching migrant kids from their illegal parents?
June 25, 2018, 12:15 pm
Gary from Fort Greene says:
"A Fort Greene deli owner who immigrated to Brooklyn from the Middle East as a toddler...."

He's a living, breathing argument against open borders.
June 25, 2018, 1:58 pm
Zach from Williamsburg says:
Wow, a muslim man who hates the US! Must have had to search long and hard to find that (*rolls eyes*)
June 25, 2018, 4:29 pm
Frank from Furtdt says:
No he doesn't hate the US. He hates's not the same thing...yet. thank god.
June 25, 2018, 5:09 pm
One of hundreds of Ralph's fans from Fort Greene says:
This is our neighborhood angel. He is reason enough to move to Fort Greene. Because he is fearless, generous, kind and an example of why we 're enriched by immigrants such as he is, he is well loved & trusted.

The trolls need to go back to their rat holes.
June 25, 2018, 5:20 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
If you hate the man that is giving his all trying to Make America Great Again, then you literally hate The USA. Trump represents America, the Democrats represent MS 13, and all illegal criminals.
June 25, 2018, 5:20 pm
Frank from Furter says:
No trump isn't the U.S..he is not making the U.S. great again. He is making it white again...but I suspect you want that.the democrats don't represent ms13 and illegal criminals only your sound bite does. He didn't even win the popular vote but you won't believe that either. Yes I know don't confuse you with the facts. Nothing any one does or say will convince you otherwise and that is truly sad. This too shall pass.and the sooner the better.
June 25, 2018, 5:51 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
No, I don’t want to make America white again, no matter how many times you throw up that straw man. I want law and order, and America to be for Americans again. No more coddling criminals, or illegal invaders, or politicians that represent those who hate us. America: love it or leave it.
June 25, 2018, 6:25 pm
Vision Zero from Zero Vision says:
^^^Bunch of idiots^^^
June 25, 2018, 6:28 pm
Vision Zero from Zero Vision says:
Harley Davidson is moving production out of the U.S. That sure screams making America great again. Henry is such a dope and will be the first to cry when his S.S. and medicaid is scrapped to pay for a wall.
June 25, 2018, 6:31 pm
Shelby from Bk says:
Sorry, but this cultural appropriation! He is not a Latino migrant, yet he has no problem using their culture to sell merchandise !

To the user “one of ralph’s hundreds of fans” - I’m sure you and your white gentrifying friends think that cultural appropriation is so much fun, and will enjoy spending your parents’ money at his store. But you and he are just like Hitler.
June 25, 2018, 6:44 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Nah, I won’t cry, because I’m not allergic to work. Unlike those parasites like Vision Zero who demand the money out of the pockets of people that have earned theirs.
June 25, 2018, 7:56 pm
Vision Zero from Zero Vision says:
^^^This is a new level of stupidity^^^
This dope doesn't understand what Social Security is and how the surplus is being spent by his great administration.
June 25, 2018, 8:12 pm
Vision Zero from Zero Vision says:
Yeah, making America great again!
Here ya go, stupid:
June 25, 2018, 8:28 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Hey brainiac, you do realize those tariffs will ensure that Trump sweeps the rust belt, which ensures his re-election. I personally disagree with the tariffs, but I understand why he is doing it. As for Social Security, the sooner that ponzi scheme is relegated to the dustbin of history, the better. I will get my investment back, and younger people will get to decide how they use their money, which is what freedom is all about.
June 25, 2018, 9:03 pm
Vision Zero from Zero Vision says:
^^^WOW, Dumb & a Hypocrite^^^
So you admit he is destroying our economy but at least you get your wall, allegedly.
Wow, you really are a dipshiit.
June 25, 2018, 9:13 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
Show me where I mentioned a wall. You should have gone with tax cuts. Gotta break eggs to make an omelette. Full employment economy benefits the lazy, downturns are where there is money to be made. If you were smart, you would have money saved to invest when the economy slows.
June 25, 2018, 9:45 pm
Henry Ford from Bay Ridge says:
IDGAF about a brick and mortar wall. Trump wants it because he is an egomaniac, and crowds go nuts when he mentions it. We already have the technology to tighten the border. Just use that.
June 25, 2018, 9:50 pm
Vision Zero from Zero Vision says:
You voted for him, jakkass.
You're the bigot always crying about "illegals" infesting the country. By the way, seeking asylum is not illegal, stupid.
June 25, 2018, 9:53 pm

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