American Apparel Forced to Lay Off 1,800 Immigrant Workers

After a lengthy investigation by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, American Apparel owner Dov Charney has been forced to fire 1,800 employees (about a quarter of the company's workforce) because of their immigration status.

The firings at the well-regarded Los Angeles based company provide a clear example of how the Obama administration is trying to move from workplace raids to forced termination in the fight against illegal immigration. But the firings are not without controversy, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the terminations were "devastating" and his office publicly called on the federal government to focus on employers that exploit and abuse their workers. American Apparel has historically been very good to their workers, providing all of their garment producers with health and life insurance and paying them well above the standard going rate for garment workers.

But politicians like Representative Brian P. Bilbray, a Republican from San Diego, say that the firings are fair for employers like American Apparel, whom he says have "become addicted to illegal labor."

"Of course it’s a good idea," Mr. Bilbray said of the crackdown. "They seem to think that somehow the law doesn’t matter, that crossing the line from legal to illegal is not a big deal."

In efforts to raise awareness of a campaign to grant legal status to illegal immigrants (a move President Obama has supported in the past), American Apparel began producing T-shirts that say "Legalize L.A."

"No matter how we choose to define or label them," Dov Charney said, illegal immigrants "are hard-working, taxpaying workers."

Share this 
About this author1

Mariela Rosario,

I'm a raging opinionista and I love to share my ramblings on everything from pop culture to food to stuff that makes me laugh & cry! I've worked in all types of media (TV, film, print) and was previously the online editor at Latina magazine before joining Mamás Latinas. On most nights you can find me working my way through my library of cookbooks or playing with my puppy Lola (my only child so far). I have a wonderful hubby who shares my passion for any and all kinds of travel. Together, we've formed a semi-professional wine drinking team.

Like this post? Contribute to the discussion!