Houston restaurant faces backlash over Jeff Sessions photo

A Houston restaurant chain found itself in hot water with local residents after a photo with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions went viral, KHOU reported.

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Sessions, who visited Houston recently, was shown in a photograph with El Tiempo restaurant co-owner Dominic Laurenzo after the attorney general had dinner there Friday.

The attorney general’s tough stance on immigration is not popular among Texans, and some patrons believed the photograph was an endorsement by the owners of the Tex-Mex restaurant, the television station reported.

Laurenzo's Restaurants president Roland Laurenzo disagreed with that perception but conceded posting the photo on social media was a mistake.

"In retrospect, it was a mistake because it angered so many people," Roland Laurenzo told KHOU. "We have gotten so many complaints and comments. And threats, death threats. This has been extremely shocking to our family."

The post was removed late Friday after it was blasted by some customers, who called for a boycott. The restaurant's Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages were taken down Saturday, The Houston Chronicle reported.

Roland Laurenzo said the photo was sent to the person who handles the restaurant chain's social media accounts and it was posted without consulting with management, KPRC reported.

"The last thing I ever wanted to do was to upset everybody. It didn't dawn on me until after that everyone was associating me with approving of the politics of Mr. Sessions and by no means is that the case. It's been a big misunderstanding," Roland Laurenzo told the television station.

Roland Laurenzo told KHOU that his company is not in favor of separating families and does not agree with Sessions' views on gay rights.

Houston activist Cesar Espinosa said he was not satisfied by Laurenzo’s explanation.

"A lot of these restaurants hire undocumented people, they hire immigrants to work, to take these long shifts, to serve people with a smile on their face, and you have this man, Jeff Sessions, who, consequentially, before visiting El Tiempo, blamed a lot of the U.S. crime, a lot of the U.S. ills on immigrants," Espinosa told KPRC. "So you can't have it both ways. You can't be hypocritical and say, 'I don't like immigrants but I like what they contribute to the U.S. through their food and their culture.'"

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