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Are American Apparel lay offs a replacement for raids?

I am deeply disappointed that the Obama administration has failed to bring about immigration reform. Whereas I know he has the intention to do so, getting the job done is another story.

Words from the farewell letter written by Dov Charney, American Apparel’s chief executive, to almost a quarter of his staff laid off because of a federal investigation that found irregularities in their documents. According to a New York Times article,

The firings at the company, American Apparel, have become a showcase for the Obama administration’s effort to reduce illegal immigration by forcing employers to dismiss unauthorized workers rather than through workplace raids. The firings, however, have divided opinion in California over the fallout of the new approach, especially at atime of record joblessness in the state and with a major, well-regarded employer as a target.

In fact just yesterday California lawmakers put forth a resolution which passed in the California Senate (it does not have the force of law) whose first sentence states, “The State of California….strives to enable all residents to work and live free from discrimination, exploitation, and repressive federal immigration enforcement.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement has opened audits of 654 other companies, but what makes American Apparel stand out is its open and strong support of immigration reform (remember Legalize L.A.!). While it’s certainly been a relief to see a stop to the old workplace raids, replacing these with a different kind of enforcement that often has the same effects is not quite the solution one is looking for.

Watch Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren describing the old style raids.

It was an interpreter translating in the hearings for nearly 400 immigrant workers picked up in the Postville raid who revealed that many of the workers pleaded guilty to social security fraud (a dubious claim that the Supreme Court rejected) without understanding the criminal charges they were facing, or the rights that they had waived. Many went on to serve 5 months in jail and then get deported.

Two new documentaries examine the effects of the raids by tracing them back to their villages in Guatemala. Both Guatemala: A Tale of Two Villages that screened on PBS’s Frontline and In the Shadow of a Raid (courtesy FIRM) show how the biggest immigration raid in U.S. history made a Guatemalan village weep while pushing an Iowa farm town to the brink of collapse.

One Response to “Are American Apparel lay offs a replacement for raids?”

    The organization that you cite NumbersUSA as one of your sources is from where I assume you have garnered much of your information from them. This organization has long been acknowledged as promoting intolerance and hate politics. The Southern Poverty Law Center has published a report (http://www.splcenter.org/intel/nativist_lobby.jsp) stating that ‘FAIR, CIS and NumbersUSA are all part of a network of restrictionist organizations conceived and created by John Tanton, the “puppeteer” of the nativist movement and a man with deep racist roots wrote candidly that to maintain American culture, “a European-American majority” is required.’
    America is a country that has deep roots with values of opportunity, fairness and due process. Today, our broken immigration system is denying these basic rights, and this is hurting both immigrants and Americans alike. Hate politics and fear mongering is not going to solve the problems we have at hand. Instead, we need workable solutions that will move our country forward together.
    Proof of the broken immigration system is clear in the video on this website http://www.restorefairness.org, where Members of Congress, immigration judges, civil society leaders, and personal stories of immigrants, reveal a system that needs fixing now.
    I would suggest you look at more balanced sources of informations to get a perspective that upholds the values that we hold dear as a country – and to really understand the myths that you believe in around immigration and healthcare, e-verify, 287(g), unemployment and other aspects that you mentioned.
    Please see below as a starting point.
    http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/index.php?content=randp
    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/domestic/immigration
    http://www.immigrationforum.org/research

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