Famed Philadelphia cheesesteak restaurateur and local radio station hold fundraiser for Arizona

John Rossomando Contributor
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A Philadelphia radio station and Joey Vento, owner of the city’s famed Geno’s Steaks, are not taking the Obama administration’s decision to prosecute Arizona over its immigration law lying down.

Vento and the radio station will hold an on-air fundraiser Wednesday evening to raise money for Arizona’s legal defense fund,, which Arizona Republican Gov. Jan Brewer established in May amid numerous private lawsuits and the then-rumored federal lawsuits.

“We are hoping to have a big turnout,” Big Talker 1210 AM talk show host Dom Giordano said in an interview with The Daily Caller. “Places like Philadelphia might be 2,000 miles from the border, but it’s still a big issue for a lot of people here.”

Vento and Giordano came up with the idea for the fundraiser after they did a broadcast from Arizona in May amid the street protests against the law, as a way to show support.

“We are the first major radio station to come up with this sort of idea,” Giordano said.

Giordano calls the event a “buycott” because it allows people who can’t travel to Arizona to financially support the state. Those who support the law can send a message to the Obama administration by showing up at Geno’s or donating online.

Brewer—along with Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, author of the Arizona law; Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio; Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, author of a similar bill in his state; and Hazelton, Pa. Mayor Lou Barletta ̶ will be featured during the broadcast.

The federal lawsuit against Arizona claims the state exceeded its authority by instructing state law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration statutes should they take someone into custody lacking proper identification.

“It will be very, very costly defending Arizona from the federal government,” said Giordano. “This is only the first wave because Holder has said he plans to go after Arizona for racial profiling.”

That could cost the state millions more in the face of the federal government’s virtually limitless resources, which is a further reason why Giordano says people should donate.

Giordano and Vento find Holder’s “racial profiling” charge particularly disgusting because the law forbids singling out people based on their “race, color or national origin.”

“There’s nothing about profiling in there,” Vento says. “If you are stopped for a legitimate reason, they have the right to ask you for identification.”

He continued, “We show identification all day long. You go to an airport, you gotta show identification. You go to the bank and you want to open up a deposit or you want to do a withdrawal, you have to show identification. If you get stopped by a police officer for any violation, you must show your registration and insurance card.”

Vento has been passionate about illegal immigration ever since the city of Philadelphia took him to court five years ago over a sign he posted at his establishment telling customers to “Speak English” when ordering—a case he won in 2008.

“The city tried putting me out of business, but the only thing they did was make me a hero all around the country,” Vento said. “I have people coming in here constantly thanking me for standing up for the Americans.”

He has also been an outspoken critic of Philadelphia’s status as a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants.

These stances have caused some to label him as “racist,” a charge he rejects due to his belief illegal immigration harms the American dream, especially because those who employ illegals use them as “slaves.”

“I don’t want to be a Third World country,” he said. “I’m talking with landscapers that are having a lot of problems competing because a lot of landscapers are hiring illegals, and the hardworking ones can’t compete.”

Vento said he personally never considered hiring illegal immigrants for his business.

“I’ve got a business and I’ve got almost 30 people that are working for me, and I’ve never, ever in my life thought about hiring illegals,” he said. “It has nothing to do with your nationality, and I don’t care what you are. If you are here legally, I’ll hire you, but other than that, I don’t even want to talk to you.”

Vento argued that America is the greatest country in the world because it allows “blue-collar working people” like himself to succeed. He believes politicians such as President Obama want to undermine the American dream by ignoring the affect of illegal immigration on crime and wages.

“They should be more loyal to the American people who elected them,” Vento said. “Politicians are more concerned about illegals than their own people.”

Giordano contends Obama decided to go after Arizona in an effort to gain Hispanic support for Democratic candidates in the November midterm elections, but he believes the strategy could backfire.

“You have four or five Democratic governors who are saying this could be a political risk for the Democrats,” Giordano said.

Vento said his fundraiser for Arizona will encourage other states to pass laws similar to the Arizona law and show them the American people will stick by them if they do.

The fundraiser will take place Wednesday evening from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. More information can be found on the Big Talker 1210 AM’s website.