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ICE Targets Employers Who Follow the Law

The $150,000 in fines so far charged to Los Angeles clothing maker American Apparel for allegedly employing illegal immigrants may be a welcome change from the

Emmanuella Shea
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Jul 03, 2009

The $150,000 in fines so far charged to Los Angeles clothing maker American Apparel for allegedly employing illegal immigrants may be a welcome change from the notorious factory raids by federal agents that led to hundreds of jailed and deported employees. As The New York Times reported on Friday, it suggests a shift in strategy on the part of immigration officials at the Department of Homeland Security.

But it still doesn’t explain why the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE, after promising to crack down on employers who illegally hire immigrants and treat them as slave labor, is going after a company that starts its low-skilled workers at $10 – $12 an hour plus health benefits — far above the legal minimum wage. The government hasn’t even alleged that the company knowingly hired undocumented workers, only that an audit of its records shows that about a third of the workers might not be legal and may have shown fake documents when they were hired.

If the workers can’t now prove legal employment status, they’ll be fired and possibly deported.

Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-Calif.) encouraged the DHS to be “tough” on employers who hire illegal immigrants. But he seems ill-informed about just who those employers are and what they’re doing.

“If this is a truly conscientious effort to get tough with employers to say the days are over of profiteering with illegal immigrants, that’s fine,” he told Julia Preston of the Times. “But if the fine will be so low that it’s just part of doing business, there’s no deterrent.”

But it turns out American Apparel is not profiteering off illegal immigrants — just the opposite. It seems to be paying a fair and living wage and benefits to whoever comes to work there and can show proof of legal work authorization.

Technically, DHS can go after any employer it wants who may have hired someone with false papers. But targeting a model company providing low-skilled and immigrant workers a chance to earn an honest living wage doesn’t really seem to be the best use of scarce resources.

Emmanuella Shea | Emmanuella Shea is a professional financial analyst with over 9 years of experience in the financial markets. Emmanuella is still concerned about the long-term stability of multimillion-dollar financial portfolios. She is skilled at persuading and manipulating high-ranking individuals in addition to her work as a Financial Analyst. Her decisions are trusted and respected, and her views are highly regarded. Her long-term ambition is to work as a policy advisor at the national level. She wants to use her unwavering dedication and drive to help developing-country people gain more dignity and autonomy.

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