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Restaurant owner says dozens of workers gone after request from DHS

Restaurant owner says dozens of workers gone after request from DHS

CANTON, Md. (WBFF) -- Customers of the BoatHouse in Canton were greeted with an unfamiliar sign Saturday.

The restaurant posted copies of a letter at its entrance and on social media.

The letter was written by the owner and explains the restaurant unexpectedly lost more than 30 employees, he says after the Department of Homeland Security requested employment files in order to review I-9 immigration documentation.

The letter read in part, “… properly documented and potentially less than properly documented are all fearful of being separated from their families, many with small children. Many went home to pack up and leave. This was a sad, emotional and tragic event.”

The owner went on to write, “It has been confirmed that the BoatHouse’s policies and records are in compliance.”

The owner then apologized to customers about any disruption in service and offered a discount to those who dined there Friday.

“We had no idea there was any issue going on,” said one customer, reacting to the letter.

Many customers were unaware of the situation.

Fox 45 went to the restaurant shortly after the letter was published in hopes of getting more information from the owner. But, he wasn’t there and later said over the phone he wasn’t available this weekend to comment further.

“I just find it so unfortunate,” said George Hutcheson, also a frequent customer of the BoatHouse.

Online the letter has sparked some debate. The BoatHouse also posted the letter to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

A number of people praised the owner and his attempt to now raise money for the families. Others offered more criticism than praise. At least one patron vowed to never go the restaurant again.

The owner told Fox 45 he would talk Monday. Fox 45 also reached out to the Department of Homeland Security for comment.

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