Chocolate brownies with orange and cream cheese frosting, lemon tarts with a sweet golden meringue, mini-macaron cookies in pastel colors and pans of moist tres leches cakes topped with strawberry jam and cream are spread across the table enticing customers to buy them — and, at the same time, help a migrant child crying at the border.
Bake sales, of course, have been used for decades to raise money for church supplies and school programs, but on Friday, these decadent treats made by two Salt Lake City bakeries — Fillings & Emulsions and Gourmandise — were on sale to gather donations to help migrant parents caught crossing the border and their children sent to shelters.
Under a national policy to curb immigration, at least 2,000 minors — possibly more — were separated from parents and guardians since mid-April.
After days of heartrending news coverage of crying children, President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to stop separations and keep parents and kids together.
“I know what it’s like,” said Adalberto Diaz Labrada, the chef and owner of FIllings & Emulsions bakery, and the sponsor of the “Families Belong Together” bake sale.
When Diaz left Cuba more than two decades ago, he, too, arrived at a detention center at the U.S border. He was tired and scared, and it was so stressful he started losing his dark hair.
“And I was 28,” he said. “What will happen to these kids?
Watching the events from his couch in Utah, Diaz got the idea of holding a special bake sale. He soon recruited friends from Gourmandise. They brought almond horns, palmiers and two kinds of chocolate chip cookies.
Christina Rojas, owner of La Cubana, joined in, selling slow roasted pork and rice bowls with black beans, pork and fried plantains.
The sale will continue Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. — or “until we run out” — at the bakery, 1475 S. Main, Salt Lake City, said Diaz.
Besides buying biscotti, guava-filled pasteles, bread and other treats, many customers donated an additional $5, $10 or $20 for the cause.
The Declaration of Independence “allows people the pursuit of happiness; that’s a fundamental part of our country,” Diaz said. “The pursuit of happiness is what these families are doing, and we are destroying that right at the door.”
All the proceeds from the food sales will be donated to RAICES: The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services. The nonprofit organization in San Antonio provides legal services to immigrants and refugees hoping to be reunited with their children.
“It’s a good cause,” said West Jordan resident Mike Truong, who was among the first to arrive Friday. “What’s happening is wrong, and it’s hard to figure out how to help.”
Salt Lake City resident Jesse Hoffman agreed. “We are feeling helpless about the situation and looking for something good to do. I’m hoping this makes a statement that not everyone agrees with what is going on.”
Michele Rivera of Salt Lake City said it has been “hard to comprehend” what was happening at the U.S. border.
“We are all immigrants,” she said, “whether you are a white American or a Hispanic American; you can’t treat children, who came by no fault of their own, like criminals.”
Cakes and cookies made in Utah may be able to help.