Contrary to a fake ad promoted by social media users, the coffee-shop giant Starbucks will not be offering discounts to undocumented immigrants on August 11, the company has confirmed.
Created by internet trolls, the fraudulent ad titled “Starbucks Dreamer Day” reads, “All undocumented Americans will receive any item on the Starbucks menu 40 percent off” with the hashtag #BorderFreeCoffee. The word “Dreamer” is often associated with a group of undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, as it’s named after a 16-year-old bipartisan immigration bill that seeks to legalize this group of people.
John Kelly, the Starbucks senior vice president of global communications, told The Associated Press over the weekend that the rumor is “completely false. One hundred percent fake.” The company has also taken to Twitter to respond to internet users who have promulgated the fake ad.
Internet trolls seized on the opportunity to market Starbucks to immigrants because the company is known for its progressive hiring practices, like setting goals to hire thousands of refugees and veterans.
The origin of the ad appears to come from the website 4chan. The point of the ad, as the creator pointed out on 4chan, is to get undocumented immigrants to go to Starbucks to ask for “free stuff,” a claim that perpetuates the myth that these people are freeloaders on U.S. society. Users have also suggested calling the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to target Starbucks on Friday the 11th so that immigrants can be detained and potentially deported at the shops.
The ad is insulting in large part because it hypes up the rhetoric that undocumented immigrants are takers and not makers in the United States. The myth works exceedingly well because undocumented immigrants are already viewed as “criminals” despite violating civil and not criminal offenses when they enter the country illegally. This view presents a very black-and-white portrayal that disregards the reasons why people, and their ancestors, come to the United States in the first place like fleeing violence in their home countries.
In actuality, the country’s 11 million undocumented population contributes an estimated $11.74 billion in state and local taxes, according to a March 2017 Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy report. A 2016 national survey of DREAMers, who have been able to receive temporary work authorization and deportation relief under an Obama-era program, found that more than 40 percent began work at their first job, which increases their taxable revenue.
The ad is also appalling because internet trolls hope to scare immigrants with the threat of deportation, an unsettling reality that is already taking place at a rapid clip under the Trump administration. Acting on President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration, officers and agents with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration enforcement operations, have already begun detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants, regardless of the severity of their crimes.
Internet trolls, who likely benefit from immigrant labor in their everyday meals, have tried to intimidate this population before. Last October before Trump was elected as president, trolls widely shared a photoshopped image of an U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent arresting a Latino man in the back of a voter line in an effort to dissuade Latinos from voting on Election Day.
By Esther Yu Hsi Lee
Esther is a reporter at ThinkProgress.org.