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At American Apparel, we've always felt strongly about the subject of immigration. Even as early as 2003, we were running ads and putting up billboards calling for reform (see here). Today this issue is more contentious than ever and we feel the time is ripe for individuals, companies, and communities to speak out honestly about it.
WASHINGTON POST (Harrison Post): Immigrants started half of the nation's top VC-backed firms By J.D. Harrison
12/ 21 2011
Press
Early-stage, high-growth firms have been shown to create the bulk of new jobs in the United States. But who creates all those companies that create all those jobs?

Evidently, immigrants play an enormous role.

Nearly half of the top 50 venture-backed firms in the country were founded at least in part by an immigrant, according to a new study 'http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=%2FSPbkbg7Joh06T8WNVA9J1mpUOU4S3mA' by The National Foundation for American Policy. Expanded to include key management personnel, the portion of the top young companies headed by foreign individuals hikes up to 74 percent.

"It's a gamble whether an entrepreneur should stay or leave right now, and that's not how the immigration system should work," Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association, said in a statement. "What we need is legislation that helps these entrepreneurs from outside the United States."

The study found that 46 percent (23 firms) of the top 50 venture-backed companies selected by Dow Jones's Venturesource were started by at least one immigrant co-founder and that, on average, those companies created 150 jobs. Moreover, 37 of the top firms have foreign workers in top-level production and management positions.

VentureSource selected the top 50 VC-funded companies based on factors like company growth, successful chief executives and founders, and the amount of capital raised. Each is privately held and valued at less that $1 billion, and each has picked up venture capital funding within the last three years.

Among those with immigrant founders are Silicon Valley darlings like textbook-rental start-up Chegg, online dating service Zoosk, and online craft marketplace Etsy. The most common country of origin for immigrant founders from the top 50 firms was India, followed by Israel and Canada.

The results of the study provide additional ammunition to lobbyists, lawmakers and advocacy groups fighting for immigration reform, especially pertaining to those with advanced training and the wherewithal to launch their own firms. Most recently, House Judiciary Committee members announced plans to introduce a new bill 'http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=HwT9Sr4n2WQ%2BZrIs1CJeuFmpUOU4S3mA' in January that would improve green card access for highly educated immigrants, signaling that the debate will only heat up in the new year.

Read More
Deportations tear some families apart
12/05/11
Press
"Mostly we cry," she says. "All the time we cry and say, 'I love you, I miss you.' "

After living for 21 years in the U.S., Ramos, 39, was deported to Mexico in September, separated from the two daughters and son she has raised as a single mother since her ex-husband left them seven years ago. She had lacked legal immigration status since crossing the border into the U.S. as a teenager with her parents, so the threat of arrest and deportation was always there. Even so, Lily, as she is known to friends, had hoped her clean record and two decades of work, paying taxes, going to church and providing for her U.S.-born children would allow her a path to legal status or at least avoid deportation.

Like hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants, her hopes rose with the Obama administration. In July 2010, President Obama said mass deportation of all illegal immigrants would be "intolerable" to most Americans because so many have established deep family roots, often with children who are citizens. He said they should be given a route to legal status: "Our laws should respect families following the rules instead of splitting them apart."

In June 2011, the administration announced a policy of focusing immigration enforcement on violent criminals and threats to national security rather than families with children, deep ties to their communities and no criminal records.

Six months after Obama's 2010 speech, federal agents showed up at the Bend, Ore., resort where Ramos worked as a housekeeper, handcuffed her and took her to immigration jail. She realized nothing had changed for her. A few months after her arrest, when Obama formally announced the policy change seemingly tailored to people like her, it made no difference. "The immigration people told me, 'No, it's not true, it's only politics,' " she says, tears flowing from her brown eyes as she chats in a small café in the neighborhood where she stays, far from the center of this border town.

Read More
Join us Sunday, May1st to Legalize LA!

Legalize LA is about recognizing, celebrating and embracing the diversity of Los Angeles, so essential to the city's success. Our dream for Los Angeles is that the over 1 million undocumented migrant workers who live here, and contribute to the city economically, culturally, and socially will have the opportunity to become legal residents of the city, and the United States.

For 7 years American Apparel employees have been proudly marching for immigration reform, in unison with tens of thousands of people in Los Angeles, and 1 million people all over the world. Although this year the rally falls on a Sunday, and we will not be marching as an organized group due to the factory being closed for the day, we'll still be there and we hope to see you!

To encourage your participation in this important event, we're giving away one free Legalize LA garment with any purchase at our downtown factory store (from Fri-Sunday). Hurry up and get yours, as supplies are limited to 1,000 pieces only.

Marchers from various organizations are meeting between 9am and 10am at Olympic & Broadway and traveling north on Broadway until they reach the central rally at Broadway and Temple. For your convenience, our parking lot will be free and open to all this Sunday. For directions to our factory, click here.

American Apparel, and Los Angeles, run on the efforts of hardworking people from all over the world. So get out there and support your friends, family, coworkers, employees and millions of strangers who deserve the same opportunities as you.
Legalize LA 2010

On Saturday, May 1st, over 60,000 people in Los Angeles and nearly one million people worldwide marched together in support of immigration reform. These are some of Dov's favorite photos he took during the march - American Apparel's 11th year participating.




 
06/14/10
Press


American Apparel supports the fight against SB 1070, a recently-passed bill in Arizona which discriminates against the state's Chicano population. Show your support with one of our new Legalize Arizona T-shirts.

In this front-page story from Huffington Post, children protest SB 1070. Read the full article here.
Latina: AZ Gov. Jan Brewer Signs Racist Immigration Bill into Law
04/26/10
Press
The immigration debate has always caused a rift among citizens of Arizona —a state that has one of the highest Latino populations in the country. Though Hispanics own businesses, hold public office and help support the local economy, the perception that immigrants do nothing but drain community resources, take away jobs and increase violence persists for some in the southwestern state.

The debate is predictably split along racial and socioeconomic lines, and the signing of a new bill SB 1070 into law last Friday by Gov. Jan Brewer has deepened the chasm. "We were already afraid, and I was thinking of leaving for California," Mesa, AZ resident Eric Ramirez, 29, told the NY Times. "We shop in their stores, we clean their yards, but they want us out and the police will be on us."

Read More
L.A. Times Blog: Legalizing undocumented adult Latinos would be boon to state's economy
01/15/10
Press
"California could reap an economic boom worth $16 billion by legalizing its 1.8 million undocumented adult Latino immigrants, according to a USC study released today. The economic benefits would come as newly legalized immigrants earned higher wages, spent more consumer dollars, paid more taxes and helped create jobs, according to the study by the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration.

"People keep using our economic condition as an excuse to not do comprehensive immigration reform," said Manuel Pastor, one of the study's authors. "It's just the opposite: What we need to do to right our economy and move forward is create a path to legalization."

Read The L.A. Times Blog
Opinion: Daily 49er
10/16/2009
Strong Voices
The Daily 49er, the student newspaper for Cal State Long Beach, has published an opinion editorial about American Apparel and immigration reform. The author writes that American Apparel has not been charged with knowingly hiring undocumented workers - a fact that many gloss over. He highlights the unfairness and irony seen at our traveling flea markets on college campuses, that as students scramble for deals of garments the people who worked so hard to make them have lost their jobs. It is a great article (the author is right, firing workers is not the way to address immigration reform) and seeing a young person write it is encouraging.

Read more

Týden, a Czech weekly newsmagazine, recently published an article about American Apparel.

Read more
The American Apparel Factory and the American Dream
10/15/2009

The last few weeks have meant difficult decisions and sadness at American Apparel. Compliance with immigration laws has resulted in the dismissal of about 1,500 of our permanent employees due to alleged discrepancies in their immigration documentation. These friends and family members leave behind not only their jobs and wages, but the safety and opportunities that exist at the largest, most efficient garment factory in the country. Even as we adjust to this difficult loss, the events which culminated in a banquet hall ceremony outside Los Angeles this Thursday leave us hopeful. There, Jeremías Pablo, an employee of American Apparel who started as a shirtsleeve sewer more than 10 years ago, was officially sworn in as a citizen of the United States.

We'd like to briefly share his story with you to better illustrate the spectrum of narratives experienced by the immigrants who work in Los Angeles.

In 1994 Jeremías immigrated to the United States, leaving Guatemala for Miami, Florida. He spent three years there, working in the fields. In 1997 he moved to Los Angeles, where he found work in the unregulated garment factories spread out across the city. These factories would pay as little as $10 per day for shifts as long as 12 hours. In 1998, his luck changed when he found a job at a small factory on Olympic and Santa Fe in Los Angeles, underneath the 10 Freeway. It paid $9 per hour and he worked as a shirtsleeve sewer.

As it turned out, Jeremías was among the first 50 employees of what would become American Apparel. He earned about $12 per hour, at a time when the company was manufacturing t-shirts for screen printers and private labels. Jeremías stayed on as American Apparel's reputation for quality and good fit spread and the company grew. Under the encouragement of CEO Dov Charney and his supervisors, Jeremías took night classes at an adult school to strengthen his English and communication skills. He did not know at the time how valuable this education would become.

In early 2002, Marty Bailey became the VP of Operations at American Apparel. He moved quickly to transition the factory to a new system of "team manufacturing" where groups of professional sewing operators work together in teams to complete garments efficiently and to minimize costly work in process. Marty noticed Jeremías, whose interest in these changes prompted a promotion to begin training and instructing other sewers on the new methods. Having succeeded at his new position and regularly attended night school classes after long days of sewing made Jeremías the perfect candidate to work as a translator inside the company. Jeremías learned the American Apparel manufacturing system from top to bottom. And he learned how to train workers to be a part of the evolving system.

In 2005, Jeremías was promoted to become a Sewing Manager, essentially the second-in-command of a workforce of 2,500 people, or half of the employees at the American Apparel factory headquarters. In 11 years, Jeremías ascended through five positions at American Apparel, rising from a sleeve sewer to a top management spot at which he continues to excel.

On Thursday, October 8th in Montebello, California, Jeremías put a cap on his inspiring story - he became an American citizen. Surrounded by family, friends and co-workers, he put an end to his 13-year application process and traded his green card for United States citizenship. He story highlights a number of important issues surrounding American Apparel, including the benefits of promoting from within, supporting workers and helping them become successful, and most essentially the contradictions inherent in current immigration policy. Or, as Jeremías puts it:

"People that come to American Apparel like me, they find the American dream here. I had goals but I never thought I would one day manage 2,500 people. Opportunities opened up to me here and I took advantage of that. Now, because of their documentation, other workers don't have the opportunities that I had."

For many this week, the American Apparel factory represented the loss of jobs in response to an irrational and broken immigration system. But for Jeremías, it represented his path to fulfillment of the American Dream.
Opinion: The Cavalier Daily and Voice of San Diego
10/08/2009
Strong Voices
Yesterday, two more great writers weighed in with smart, critical and important pieces on the need for immigration reform.

The Cavalier Daily, "Missing the Point" by Ashley Chappo:
"When asked about the recent firing of American Apparel employees, third-year College student and Prime Minister of the International Residential College, Danny Navarro said, "In other words, President Obama is targeting the wrong source, perhaps in attempt to show the conservatives that he is 'upholding the law.' However, such strategy is never going to solve the issue, an issue that the United States must actively involve itself in because of its historical involvement in the region."

Rather than make American Apparel a paradigm of the new crackdown policy, the Obama administration should have focused on curtailing employers who knowingly capitalize on illegal status. Rather than single out companies that provide employees with health benefits, stocks and pay above the minimum wage, the Obama administration should target unscrupulous sweatshops and employers that seek to exploit cheap labor"

Read more

Voice of San Diego, "Immigration Idiocy" By James O. Goldsborough:
"The effect of the half-ass law Bilbray so ardently defends is the following: We lose employment, lose tax dollars, lose competitiveness with countries like China that exploit their workers and steal our industry, throw thousands of able-bodied workers onto the street and allow officials like Bilbray to crow over the misery and chaos being created. Obama officials insist they are being kinder and gentler than Bush II, who preferred to invade plants and arrest immigrants as red meat gestures for the rabid right, but the effect of the action is the same."

Read more
AlterNet: Crackdown on American Apparel Workers Another Wasted Effort
10/07/2009
Strong Voices
AlterNet picked up the immigration reform discussion today and looked at how broken policies are hurting businesses who want to do good. The author writes that debate about the issue has so far been "filled with misguided efforts to find people to blame for our immigration problems." Neither the immigrants nor the employers are the problem, he says. Instead it is the system that is broken and everyone loses because of it. The damages to small and large businesses who want to follow the law but cannot because it is riddled with holes and contradictions is "untold." We need to admit that forcing hardworking people from their jobs is not a solution, nor is it the American way.
Benjamin Johnson's article is very good and we recommend you read it.

Read the AlterNet article
L.A. Times Editorial: Support for American Apparel
10/05/2009
Strong Voices
The L.A. Times has published its second editorial in support of American Apparel and the recent parting of more than 1,500 of our important and hardworking employees. The editorial board disputes the notion that this action will somehow open up more jobs for Americans or that this is good for Los Angeles. The reality is that these people, illegal or undocumented, have always been Americans. They live here, they work here, they raise families and pay taxes here. The L.A. Times is worried that now they will be forced back into the shadows, or even to homelessness. If such is the result of the proper enforcement of any law, then we should think seriously about its fairness. As always, these articles are playing an important part in informing people about the reality of our current immigration laws. Feel free to share and discuss them with friends or family who may benefit from seeing them. We also encourage you to read these Letters to the Editor published in the New York Times after their articles about American Apparel. Total strangers from all over the US wrote in to express their sadness over the matter and their support for change.

Read the original L.A. Times editorial by columnist Tim Rutten
Read the L.A. Times editorial
Read the New York Times editorial
Read the New York Times Letters to the Editor
L.A. Times Editorial: Obama's pink slips for garment workers
10/03/2009
Strong Voices
Within days of each other, the east and west coast papers of record have come out in support of immigration reform and noted their disapproval of the recent actions taken by I.C.E. against American Apparel. Tim Rutten, writing for the L.A. Times, questions the the validity of a policy whose enforcement throws workers out of their jobs and puts their families at risk. How can this help the economy during a recession? How is this good for the city of Los Angeles?

The events of the last few months have been difficult and heartbreaking at American Apparel but we're encouraged to finally see important people begin to engage in this important discussion. Hopefully their voices will be heard and we can put aside political issues and make real progress on immigration reform. We hope that you join in this conversation as well and hope the articles below can help.

Read the L.A. Times Editorial
Obama's Anti-Stimulus
10/02/2009
Strong Voices
Leighton Woodhouse at the Huffington Post picks up American Apparel's cause of immigration reform by saying that when Americans voted for Obama they were "voting for a more humane American immigration policy." He writes that good companies like American Apparel who still manufacture in the U.S., provide jobs and contribute to the tax base are crucial to reviving the economy. He continues, "It is this promise, this model for the economic advancement of poor workers, that in the midst of a recession of historic proportions Obama's I.C.E. threatens to destroy for the sake of appeasing a few bigots in Congress." Those are strong words but we feel that he is correct. At the end of the day, individually enforcing immigration laws at the expense of hardworking, dedicated employees doesn't make us safer and it doesn't sit right with the principles that make America great.

Read The Huffington Post article
To All Employees: A Message About Immigration from Dov
10/01/2009
Hello All,
I wanted to share this article published in the New York Times today about American Apparel and immigration enforcement. As you know, American Apparel has found itself in the center of a shift in immigration policies from the Bush to Obama administrations. Although the current administration has moved away from I.C.E. Raids, the nearly 2,000 hardworking American Apparel employees affected can tell you the new policies are anything but fair. Because of a broken system, we were forced to let go of many factory workers - people who have been part of our family for nearly 10 years - and the country seems further from addressing this issue than ever.

Click to hear audio from article

I want everyone to read this article because immigration remains a critical matter at the core of this company. For those of you who are at the store level, these are the people who are working long hours to make the garments you wear and sell. For those of you at the factory, these are the people you see and share hellos with on a daily basis. It's important that we continue to follow this debate, speak out sincerely, and correct misguided and uninformed viewpoints when necessary.

For those of you who are interested in learning more, please read:
My farewell letter
to American Apparel employees
My photo essay of a recent immigration march
The materials and links are available on LegalizeLA.net

Dov Charney

After Dov sent out this email, The New York Times published an editorial essentially agreeing with him. It too noted the disconnect between Obama's promises to develop a humane, hopeful immigration policy and the reality of targeting hardworking, tax paying garment workers. We're pleased that such an respected newspaper would champion our cause.

Read The New York Times editorial
Dov Charney's Letter to Employees
09/01/2009
Dov Charney interview on VBS.TV's Illegal L.A.
08/10/2009
Strong Voices
VBS.TV sent us the interview they conducted with Dov from last year for their series Illegal L.A. We asked for additional footage from the shoot and posted it here.



Alarming Trend in Hispanic Worker Deaths
07/22/2009
Press
USA Today reported this week Hispanic worker deaths have risen over 72% since 1992. Although some of this growth may have been caused by the national increase in Hispanic employment, it highlights the abysmal working conditions that Hispanic workers face in the United States, particularly those who lack the proper documentation. The unsafe working conditions tolerated by many companies and dubious employers dramatically increase the likelihood of accidents.

This is why at American Apparel, we're completely sweatshop-free and have centralized our production in Los Angeles. By directly overseeing our own operations and knowing the faces of our workers, it's impossible for us to tolerate anything that might put their well-being in danger. These kinds of alarming trends arise when companies take advantage of workers who (because of their immigration status) possess no leverage, forcing them to work in sub-standard conditions without the necessary training or the ability to complain to management. It is alarming statistics such as this that make it obvious that immigration reform is not only necessary, but a matter of life and death.

Read The USA Today article
Legalize Today! A note from a friend
07/16/2009
Strong Voices
"I Dream American's Dream, My name is M, I grew up in beautiful Venice, California. Welcome to the neighborhood! Back in 1988 I was brought to the United States from Mexico. I was 4 then and I'm now 25. I am "an illegal" but legally I'm just undocumented. I am American as apple pie. I've earned a B.A. in Sociology from The Humboldt State University where I also played American Football. Despite my qualifications and preparation to become a productive member of society, I cannot legally work. This land is home to me for the same reason it is home to opportunity. The reason I'm writing you today is because I would love to work with the Legalize LA campaign. I am a valuable asset to the campaign. I can give speeches, work on different ways of advertising and marketing the cause. I have numerous ideas on ways to get the truth about my situation out to the whole country. I will need your help. Your company is classy, your product is clean, and you're respected. The people of the United States must understand my people to be the same. Together we can reform immigration in our country.

Sincerely,
M
Some Recent Press
07/06/2009
Press
Here are two recent articles from The Washington Independent and The New York Times about American Apparel and new immigration enforcement matters. Without commenting specifically on them, we thought they were important articles and wanted you to know about them.

Read The Washington Independent article

Read The New York Times article
A Look Inside the American Apparel Factory
06/30/2009
Strong Voices
Here are some photo displays of what it looks like inside American Apparel. We take a lot of pride in our manufacturing operation and the employees who make it possible. American Apparel does its own knitting, dying, cutting, sewing and distribution in Los Angeles. To see what a tour of our downtown LA tour looks like, read this article.



More Images

Watch an interview with Dov Charney from VBS.TV's Illegal L.A., a series on immigration in Los Angeles.

Watch Part 1
Watch Part 2
May Day 2009
05/12/2009
Strong Voices
Thousands of American Apparel employees, family members, and friends marched from the factory headquarters through downtown LA to participate in the annual May Day rally.

Dov's Speech

Video of the march
New
President Obama's commentary on immigration reform from his 100 Day Press Conference
04/29/2009
Press
QUESTION (by Lori Montenegro): Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, when you met with the Hispanic Caucus a few weeks ago, reports came out that the White House was planning to have a forum to talk about immigration and bring it to the forefront.

Going forward, my question is, what is your strategy to try to have immigration reform? And are you still on the same timetable to have it accomplished in the first year of your presidency?

And, also, I'd like to know if you're going to reach out to Senator John McCain , who is Republican and in the past has favored immigration reform?


OBAMA: Well, we reach out to – to Senator McCain on a whole host of issues. He has been a leader on immigration reform. I think he has had the right position on immigration reform. And I would love to partner with him and others on what is going to be a critical issue. We've also worked with Senator McCain on what I think is a terrific piece of legislation that he and Carl Levin have put together around procurement reform. We want that moved, and we're going to be working hard with them to get that accomplished.

What I told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is exactly what I said the very next day in a town hall meeting and what I will continue to say publicly, and that is we want to move this process.

We can't continue with a broken immigration system. It's not good for anybody. It's not good for American workers. It's dangerous for Mexican would-be workers who are trying to cross a dangerous border.

OBAMA: It is – it is putting a strain on border communities, who oftentimes have to deal with a host of undocumented workers. And it keeps those undocumented workers in the shadows, which means they can be exploited at the same time as they're depressing U.S. wages.

So, what I hope to happen is that we're able to convene a working group, working with key legislators like Luis Gutierrez and Nydia Velazquez and others to start looking at a framework of how this legislation might be shaped.

In the meantime, what we're trying to do is take some core – some key administrative steps to move the process along to lay the groundwork for legislation. Because the American people need some confidence that if we actually put a package together, we can execute.

So Janet Napolitano , who has great knowledge of this because of having been a border governor, she's already in the process of reviewing and figuring out how can we strengthen our border security in a much more significant way than we're doing.

If the American people don't feel like you can secure the borders, then it's hard to strike a deal that would get people out of the shadows and on a pathway to citizenship who are already here, because the attitude of the average American is going to be, well, you're just going to have hundreds of thousands of more coming in each year.

On the other hand, showing that there is a more thoughtful approach than just raids of a handful of workers as opposed to, for example, taking seriously the violation of companies that sometimes are actively recruiting these workers to come in. That's again something we can start doing administratively.

So what we want to do is to show that we are competent and getting results around immigration, even on the structures that we already have in place, the laws that we already have in place, so that we're building confidence among the American people that we can actually follow through on whatever legislative approach emerges.
Target of Immigrant Raids Shifted
02/06/2009
Press
The New York Times broke the story this week that I.C.E. purposely shifted from targeting criminals to workers during the Bush Administration. A review by new Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano has uncovered startling evidence that I.C.E. upped quotas and lowered requirements for those arrested for deportation should be criminals or terrorists. Deceiving Congress and the public, I.C.E. terrorized communities and hurt the economy. We hope Sec. Napolitano stops this deceptive program and shifts her resources to work towards making comprehensive immigration reform a reality.

Read the story in the New York Times
Read the posting on Political Affairs
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently visited the American Apparel factory.
11/26/2008
Strong Voices
An action plan on immigration.
10/28/2008
Legislation
Philadelphia Independent has an ambitious and intelligent plan on immigration for whatever party takes office this election. Comprehensive immigration reform might be a year or more away, but these are real, concrete and compassionate steps that any leader must take to fix a broken system. In its first 100 days, a new administration could take these simple steps to benefit immigrants and working families:

• Stop Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from seeking serious federal criminal charges, with incarceration in privately run prisons, for lacking papers or for bad Social Security numbers.

• Stop raiding workplaces, especially where workers are trying to organize unions or enforce wage and hour laws. This would help all workers, not just immigrants, to raise low wages.

• Double the paltry 742 federal inspectors responsible for all US wage and hour violations, and focus on industries where immigrants are concentrated. The National Labor Relations Board could target employers who use immigration threats to violate union rights.

• Halt community sweeps, where agents use warrants for one or two people to detain and deport dozens of others. End the government's campaign to repeal local sanctuary ordinances, and to drag local law enforcement into immigration raids.

• Allow all workers to apply for a Social Security number and pay legally into the system that benefits everyone. Social Security numbers should be used for their true purpose - paying retirement and disability benefits - not to fire immigrants from their jobs and send them to prison.

• Reestablish worker protections ended under Bush on existing guest worker programs, force employers to hire domestically first, and decertify any contractor guilty of labor violations.

• Restore human rights in border communities, stop construction of the border wall between the US and Mexico, and disband the Operation Streamline federal court, where scores of young border crossers are sent to prison in chains every day.

Read the Whole Article
I.C.E. Back In Action
10/10/2008
Press
Another day, another raid. I.C.E. agents swept into Greenville, South Carolina, last Tuesday, raiding the House of Raeford chicken processing plant and arrested 330 suspected illegal immigrants. The Associated Press writes that the raid was "tearing apart the close-knit community". In the midst of a severe financial crisis and a heated presidential election, the federal government's immigration arm still feels that it is appropriate to torment families and turn a community trying to just stay afloat into one living in fear and economic uncertainty. For families trying to get by in these tense and difficult times, is it really necessary to create even more problems across the country?

Read the A.P. Article
L.A. Mayor comes to the Factory.
09/11/2008
Strong Voices
Our Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa visited the American Apparel factory here in downtown L.A. this week to celebrate our ten thousandth new employee worldwide. He spoke to reporters on immigration and outsourcing, and keeping with the Legalize LA spirit, he gave his remarks in English and Spanish. Here's some photos of his visit.








Next Up, Mississippi
08/25/2008
Strong Voices
Last month, Barack Obama said that communities are "terrorized by I.C.E. immigration raids". The Mississippi Immigration Rights Alliance is worried that one of their neighborhoods is next. While systematically preparing a nearby federal courthouse, I.C.E. is also booking hotel rooms along the Gulf Coast, and it's a pretty safe bet to say that they're not coming into town for a vacation.

With the presidential election just weeks away, a momentous event that will hopefully signal significant change in immigration law, why does the federal government insist on continuously tearing communities apart? Maybe they should let the American people decide what they want to do about immigration in the form of a new President, rather than having an appointed official throw darts at a map to decide his next target.

Update
The rumors were correct, I.C.E. has just conducted one of the largest raids in its history, in Laurel, Mississippi. Read about it in the New York Times below.

Read more
Geraldo Rivera Speaks Out
09/04/2008
Strong Voices
In his latest book His Panic, At Large host and journalist Geraldo Rivera intelligently discusses our nation's immigration issue. One of the few reasoned voices about immigration on Fox News, Rivera writes two great passages from his book where he raises concerns about the nature of I.C.E. raids and the confusion about their relevance to terrorism:
I am reminded of another question. Why do I.C.E. agents wear bulletproof vests and full combat gear when they go on these raids? They are as heavily armed as any SWAT team. Ever since 9/11 they have worn the aura and constumes of warriors battling terror, but most of the time they are facing terrified civilian factory workers or illegal tenement dwellers who know their lives are about to be uprooted and are trembling in their pants, holding on to their babies or looking to run away. Have there been any recorded instances at all of undocumented workers standing and fighting these armored knights? (pg.117)

As Chertoff's DHS continues to follow through and dramatically escalate the arrest of undocumented workers, Republican business owners are squealing about immigration employment violation enforcement. But that activity, however disruptive, is more in keeping with the department's real job anyways. Claims of terrorism represent a tiny proportion of charges filed in recent years in immigration courts by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, according to a report issues in May 2007 by the Transactional Records Action Clearinghouse (TRAC), an independent research group affiliated with Syracuse University.

The Transactional Records Action Clearinghouse said it analyzed millions of previously undisclosed records obtained from the immigration courts under the Freedom of Information Act. In the fiscal years 2004—06, of the 814,073 people charged by the DHS in immigration courts, just 12 faced charges of terrorism: 0.0015 percent—fifteen-ten-thousands of a percent. The department's status as warriors battling the terrorist bogeyman is the creation of bogus hype. "The DHS claims it is focused on terrorism. Well, that's not true," David Burnham, a TRAC spokesman, told CNN's Scott Bronstein. (pg. 122)
Click here to buy Geraldo's book.
Click here to see Rivera debate Bill O'Reilly on immigration.
U.S. Citizens Illegally Detained in Raids
08/18/2008
Press
The Washington Post and DailyKos have both shined their light on one of the most egregious part of I.C.E.'s enforcement tactics: the detainment of legal, US citizens. At a recent Van Nuys, CA, raid, more than 40% of the people arrested were legal citizens detained mistakenly. In an online political diary, DailyKos writer Daisy Cutter lists 9 other recent cases of people who were targeted or swept up by I.C.E.'s agents, one of whom was detained for 45 days because his identity had been stolen. Not only are these massive violations of civil liberties, but they often result in costly lawsuits that far outweigh the 'damage' done by hardworking illegal immigrants.

Read the story in the Washington Post
Read the posting on Dailykos
What Are I.C.E. Raids Accomplishing?
08/13/2008
Strong Voices
New York attorney Raul Reyes wrote a scathing review in last Friday's USA Today. Asking the question "What are I.C.E. raids accomplishing?", Reyes described the aftermath of government action in Postville, Iowa, a city that has been effectively decimated by a harsh immigration crackdown and left with an increase in crime and loss of identity. He also calls the federal enforcement efforts "government-sanctioned racial profiling."

We know what I.C.E. raids are accomplishing: clogging the court system, intimidating hard working employees, filling our jails, driving away domestic employers, and crushing our culture of creativity and freedom. Wherever I.C.E. goes, communities suffer. We understand that the laws on the books demand deportations, but that is exactly why we need reform, now.

Read the Editorial
Sanity out of Congress
08/12/2008
Strong Voices
Congressmen Joe Baca and Luis Guitierrez get it, and they are making a plea to President Bush to finally listen and follow through with his promise of fixing the immigration system. In a Chicago Tribune editorial published recently, the two Representatives blast the hypocrisy of immigration raids and highlight the May 12 Postville raid as a failure of the nation at the highest level. Imploring the President to cease the use of fear tactics, Baca and Guitierrez stand as models for their fellow Congressmen. It is this kind of dialogue that will prove vital in fighting the immigration debate. The federal government must start looking at real solutions instead of cosmetic and superficial enforcement actions, and Baca and Guitierrez recognize this. It is an encouraging sign to see action coming from Washington in the right direction, and let's hope it continues until comprehensive immigration reform finally happens.

Read the Editorial
Immigration Prosecutions Clogging the Courts
07/24/2008
Press
A recent ABC News article revealed how an I.C.E. program that brings felony charges against undocumented immigrants is clogging the Federal courts. With an estimated 65,000 immigration felony cases expected to be filed this year, courthouses and judges along the border are overwhelmed. The program, dubbed Operation Streamline, has been hailed by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who declared that in regards to undocumented immigrants, the program "will brand them as having been violators of the law".

"Branding" immigrants as criminals shows the government's philosophical disconnect with the real issue at hand: immigration reform. It's another sign that the federal government would rather just treat the symptoms of the country's immigration crises, lashing out with intimidating language and scare tactics. Secretary Chertoff might be following the letter of the law, but that is why our immigration policies need to change.

Read about it
ACLU Slams Justice Department Over Immigrant Process
08/01/2008
Press
According to the ACLU, the government distributed a manual to lawyers and judges to standardize the prosecution of large batches of immigrant detainees so they don't have to look at each case individually. It was the root cause of the massively controversial prosecutions of the 300+ people arrested in Postville, Iowa. Earlier this month, we voiced our opinion that these people had been railroaded and treated unfairly. It looks like that was correct. The credibility of our Justice System has always rested on that fact that each defendant was given an individual and fair trail. Even the worst criminals are treated as human beings, with rights and respect accorded to them. Immigrants deserve those same privileges and government manuals aimed at speeding up the prosecution undermine that.

Read about it in the L.A. Times
Read the ACLU's copy of the immigration manual
Immigration Impacts the Creative Class
07/30/2008
Strong Voices
Immigration foes love to point out that approximately 1.3 million undocumented immigrants have left or been removed from the United States in the past year. While they may herald this development as a step toward ending the immigration crises, it is essential to remember that it may just be a sign of the times; of America's increasing xenophobia and struggling economy. Most important, however, is the idea discussed in noted author and professor Richard Florida's report, America's Looming Creativity Crisis, in which he writes about the negative effects of closing the country off to immigrants. A decline in immigration, legal or otherwise, signals a loss of creativity and the flow of new ideas, which has long been the driving force of this country. Cracking down on immigration can lead to even tougher times for a nation already in economic turmoil.

Read a PDF of Richard Florida's Report
Read about immigrants fleeing America
American Mayors Speak Out
07/24/2008
Strong Voices
The Unites States Conference of Mayors got together recently and came to many of the same conclusions that we have here at Legalize L.A.
Mayors are uniquely positioned to know the sentiments of their communities, so when the leaders of 1,139 cities resolved to request the federal government to end raids and deportations, it sends a strong signal that towns across the country are feeling the ill effects of I.C.E.'s actions. Further endorsing comprehensive immigration reform, we can only hope that state and federal governments take a cue from city hall.

At Legalize L.A. it's our opinion that these people were railroaded. They were unfairly punished by rules that were not fully explained or properly enforced, punished for the "crime" of fulfilling our nation's labor needs. This country has an estimated twelve million undocumented workers, many of them hardworking, innocent, and scared. They are human, and they need to be treated as such.

Click here to read their resolution
The Shame of Postville, Iowa
07/14/08
Strong Voices
Check out this heartfelt account by Erik Camayd-Friexas, a translator who was at the biggest raid in I.C.E. history, in Postville Iowa, when agents raided a food processing plant. Of the 390 workers detained, over 200 have already been criminally prosecuted and sentenced to five months in prison for violations of immigration law. Another 360 warrants were issued for other employees. Unprompted, this interpreter told his version of the raid, full of sympathy for the detainees and an acknowledgement of the conflicting duties of the judges, police, and immigration officials involved. He details both sides of a story with no winners.

At Legalize L.A. it's our opinion that these people were railroaded. They were unfairly punished by rules that were not fully explained or properly enforced, punished for the "crime" of fulfilling our nation's labor needs. This country has an estimated twelve million undocumented workers, many of them hardworking, innocent, and scared. They are human, and they need to be treated as such.

Click here to listen to this account
Click here to read this account
Click here to read what the New York Times has to say about this raid
Employers Fight Tough Measures on Immigration
07/09/08
Press

The New York Times
Julia Preston
July 6, 2008

Under pressure from the toughest crackdown on illegal immigration in two decades, employers across the country are fighting back in state legislatures, the federal courts and city halls. Business groups have resisted measures that would revoke the licenses of employers of illegal immigrants. They are proposing alternatives that would revise federal rules for verifying the identity documents of new hires and would expand programs to bring legal immigrant laborers.

Read More
NRSC Ad links Illegal Immigrants to Terrorists
07/09/08
Strong Voices
The National Republican Senatorial Committee ran this controversial ad in 2007 as part of the Cranston, Rhode Island, mayoral campaign. The graphic has been floated around anti-immigration websites. Equating Islamic extremists to immigrants that come to work and provide for their families is a thoughtless and irresponsible scare tactic.
NPR: Investigation Reveals Immigration Detainee Abuses
07/04/08
Press

National Public Radio
July 4, 2008

NPR interviews Dana Priest, who co-wrote a Washington Post investigative series revealing that many immigrants who are detained by I.C.E.receive poor or substandard medical care. They also speak to an attorney for Amina Mudey, a former detainee from Somalia, who was heavily drugged against her will and suffered side effects from the medication.

Read More
Washington Post series: Careless Detention
07/04/08
Press

The Washington Post
May 13, 2008

The Washington Post reports rampant abuse inflicted on immigration detainees in America. Under I.C.E.'s watch, 83 prisoners have died since 2003, 15 of them from suicide. Geovanny Garcia-Mejia, a 27-year-old Honduran, wrote notes in his own blood before hanging himself from a ventilation grate in his cell despite supposedly mandatory 15 minute cell checks. Another woman was misdiagnosed and given a steady diet of anti-psychotic meds that seriously impacted her health. Hassiba Belbachir lay dead in her cell for a day before anyone noticed. The list goes on and on. Putting immigration policy aside, these are people. Our government has an obligation to treat its 'prisoners' humanely and justly. After all, their only crime was wanting to live here.

Read More
Is I.C.E. Targeting Activists?
07/03/08
Strong Voices
An Ecuadorean college student named Gabby Pacheco believes that her family was placed under house arrest and targeted for deportation from Miami as a punishment for her activism. In 2006, activist Elvira Arellano took sanctuary from I.C.E. raids in a Chicago church but to no avail, she was eventually apprehended in downtown Los Angeles while making an appearance for La Familia Latina Unida (a group that aids immigrant families). She was deported within a few days. Jonah Larrama, a tenants, homeless and animal rights protester, currently sits in a Tacoma, WA detention facility after an I.C.E. raid on a Seattle jail (He had been arrested for trespassing onto a roof to watch the sunrise). Despite the 1st Amendment, we have a dirty history when it comes to using deportation to silencing vocal policy critics. In 1972, President Nixon even attempted to deport John Lennon for his anti-war activism.

Check out these links if you want to find out more about I.C.E.'s pattern of deporting activists:

Read About Gabby Pacheco
Read About Elvira Arellano
Read About Jonah Larrama
Read About John Lennon
Cardinal Calls Immigration Raids Shameful
07/03/08
Strong Voices
Following in the steps of Sen. John McCain's recent proclamation that the immigrants in this country are "God's children", Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, recently stood in support of immigrants in front of a federal commission investigating abuses by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. The cardinal used the forum to let those immigrants and their advocates in attendance know that he was there to help them and that the situation needs to change immediately.

"It is really a sad commentary that in this great country we have found it necessary to build walls that separate us from people," he said. "This is just really almost a sin on our national heritage. So just count on my help in any way that I can, and count on the Catholic Church in this country walking with you every step of the way."

Read More
American Apparel Featured on VBS
07/01/08
Strong Voices
VBS.TV

Our friends over at VBS.TV have put up a new series on immigration in Los Angeles, called Illegal L.A. They speak with Dov Charney, and dig into how immigration impacts the city we call home. Watch the first part below, and then check out the rest of the series.

John McCain: A Step in the Right Direction
07/03/08
Strong Voices
John McCain and Barack Obama addressed comprehensive immigration reform in front of the many of the nation's Latino leaders last Saturday, June 28, in Washington D.C. But it was McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, that stood out when asked if he would make the issue into a top policy priority in his first 100 days of office as president. "It will be my top priority yesterday, today and tomorrow," he confidently responded.

Read More
Statements From the Mayors of Towns Ravaged by I.C.E.
06/30/08
Press

National Public Radio
June 30, 2008

NPR recently highlighted the growing conflict between national immigration policy and the daily lives of American communities. Two mayors of towns just hit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids chose to speak out.

"I was shocked and disgusted" remarked Mayor Gail McLaughlin of Richmond, CA. "The overwhelming majority of their sweeps arrested hard-working men, mothers and school children."

Greeley, CO. Mayor Tom Selders said a December raid on a Swift & Co. meat packing plant left about 200 families in his city with no income. "To this day, needs continue for many of these people but the money has run out."

Read More
Miami Herald Blasts the Politics of Immigration
06/30/08
Press

The Miami Herald
June 29, 2008

The Miami Herald weighed in yesterday with in an editorial entitled "Anti-immigrant fever grips the nation." The piece stated that the current administration had developed "a split personality" where "the president was on the right track with a reform plan that addressed both enforcement and a path to legalization for the 12 million undocumented immigrants already here...but after it was shot down in Congress, mainly by members of his own party, Mr. Bush has allowed a search-and-seize mentality to prevail, with unfortunate effects." They concluded that "the longer Americans wait for an effective policy, the longer chaos will prevail in our states and communities."

Read More
USA Today Details the Reality of Immigration Raids
06/27/08
Press

USA Today
June 24, 2008

A front page story in the USA Today details I.C.E.'s growing abuses, including racist policies, unnecessary detentions, and extravagant bulletproof vest and guns-drawn raids. Department head Julie Myers claims she's trying to create a "culture of compliance" but what has resulted instead is a culture of intimidation and fear. At one raid, the CFO of a company that employs 700 people was illegally detained as a potential alien simply because of his Indian accent. A pregnant receptionist was accosted by officials and separated from her children, who were visiting the factory, while white employees were neither questioned nor suspected. An anti-immigration activist quoted in the article simply responded "too bad." What isn't too bad is that many of the victims are fighting back in the form of lawsuits, going to court to freeze further I.C.E. raids until the racial profiling is addressed.

Read More
Immigrant Raids Terrify Children, Congress is Told
06/26/08
Press

San Francisco Chronicle
May 21, 2008

Representative Lynn Woolsey called a hearing in the House of Representatives to investigate the damage being done to young children, many U.S. citizens, as parents and family members are swept up in anti-immigration raids by I.C.E. "They left behind them a trail of fear" testified elementary school principal Kathryn Gibney.

Read More
West Coast Mayors Decry Immigration Raids
06/20/08
Press

USA Today
June 20, 2008

At the annual meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors this week in Miami, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels will ask their colleagues to challenge how the government raids businesses in search of illegal workers. "We've never taken the position that you shouldn't enforce the law," Mayor Villaraigosa says. "What we've said is, in a time of limited resources, we should prioritize our enforcement. At a time when we don't have the resources to go after criminals, we're going after legitimate businesses and workers instead. That doesn't make sense."

Read More
Feinstein debuts bill to halt Mkoyan deportation
06/09/08
Legislation

The Fresno Bee
June 10, 2008

UC Davis immigration law professor Bill O. Hing notes on his blog that the Senate has stepped in to temporarily block the deportation of a 4.0 high school valedictorian. I.C.E. demanded that teenage Armenian immigrant Arthur Mkoyan and his family leave the United States and abandon his plans to attend UC Davis, where he was accepted. According to the Fresno Bee, the bill introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein is still an "uphill battle" despite the fact that the family has been seeking asylum in the United States since 1996. This is yet another example of how out of hand and "McCarthy-esque" the immigration environment has become.

Read More
Editorial: The Great Immigration Panic
06/09/08
Strong Voices

The New York Times
June 3, 2008

The New York Times ran one of the strongest opinion pieces we have read concerning the disturbing unjustness immigrants face in America. "Someday, the country will recognize the true cost of its war on illegal immigration. We don't mean dollars, though those are being squandered by the billions. The true cost is to the national identity: the sense of who we are and what we value. It will hit us once the enforcement fever breaks, when we look at what has been done and no longer recognize the country that did it."

Read More
U.S. Born Children Feel the Effects of Immigration Raids
06/08/08
Press

Los Angeles Times
Anna Gorman
June 8, 2008

The L.A. Times looks at the effect that stepped-up raids are having on the children of detained immigrant workers. Teachers, mental health professionals, and immigrant rights advocates are raising concerns about the damage done to those young ones left behind in the wake of I.C.E. actions.

Read More
Many New Legal Immigrants Were Illegal at Some Point
06/05/08
Press

Mercury News
June 5, 2008

Demonstrating the dysfunction that is the hallmark of the U.S. Immigration system, a new study by the Public Policy Institute of California goes against the conventional notion that most legal immigrants wait in their home country for their permanent residency papers before coming to the United States.

Read More
California Assembly Speaker announces new immigration legislation
05/30/08
Legislation
California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez announced new legislation condemning selective prosecution and immigration raids carried out by the Bush Administration, and the negative impact these actions have on Southern California's economy. Speaking from our LA headquarters, Nuñez commended American Apparel for its efforts to support comprehensive immigration reform.

See the Video

Los Angeles Times
Tiffany Hsu
April 30, 2008

The Los Angeles Times reported on the remarks of California Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez during a May Day rally at American Apparel headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.

Read More
LA Mayor Calls for an End to Selective Immigration Policies
05/16/08
Strong Voices
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently called on the federal government to revise its immigration enforcement priorities. "When Immigration and Custom Enforcement doesn't have the resources to go after criminal gang members, they shouldn't be targeting legitimate businesses," Villaraigosa said at a MacArthur Park news conference as demonstrators gathered for a May Day rally and march. Citing American Apparel as a company that is considered a "good employer", the mayor remarked that "what I.C.E. should do is go after those that mistreat their workers and take advantage of them."

See the Video

Daily News
Rick Orlov and Kerry Cavanaugh
May 1, 2008

Read the Daily News coverage of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's May Day remarks.

Read More
Legalize LA Takes it To the Streets
05/16/08
Strong Voices
American Apparel closed operations on May 1, gathering employees, family and friends at its downtown LA headquarters to participate in the Immigration March and Rally on behalf of Legalize LA.

See the Video
The Case for Open Borders
04/09/08
Press

Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Robert Z. Nemeth
April 6, 2008

Whereas many conservative Republicans have taken on an anti-immigrant political tone, Jason Riley, one of the editors of the Wall Street Journal, has written a book which makes a conservative, free market argument in favor of immigration. Writes Robert Z. Nemeth, who has reviewed the book, Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders, "Two general themes run through the book: One is that today's Latino immigrants aren't different from earlier immigrants, only newer; and the other is that an open immigration policy is not only compatible with free-market conservatism and homeland security, but it is also good for the economy."

Observes Nemeth of Riley: "He blames the 'ratings-driven rhetoric' of radio talk show hosts, misguided neo-Malthusians (overpopulation alarmists) and assorted political opportunists for stoking the fire of anti-immigrant fervor that, he points out, goes all the way back to Benjamin Franklin. 'Scapegoating foreigners for domestic problems, real or imagined, is something of an American tradition,' he says."

Read More
Legalize L.A. March
04/29/08
Events
American Apparel will once again participate in the May 1st Immigration March and Rally in downtown Los Angeles. This year we've added a route from our factory that will eventually connect with other supporters near the city hall.

What: Employees, family and friends will assemble at the American Apparel factory and march, escorted by the LAPD, to the main rally point near Broadway and 1st Street.

Why: To draw attention to the need for immigration reform in this country and support the diversity that makes Los Angeles amazing.

When: Thursday, May 1, 2008 - Departure from American Apparel will begin at 3pm.

Where: American Apparel Factory - 747 Warehouse Street Los Angeles, CA 90021. Major cross streets are 7th Street and Alameda.

Route: Start northwest on 7th Street towards downtown. Right on Central then left on 5th Street and, finally, right on Broadway. Total distance, approximately 2 miles.

We will begin to bus participants back to the factory starting at 5:30pm. Pick up site will be on 1st Street and Alameda. Join us at this pro-immigration march and rally, and receive a Free Legalize LA t-shirt from American Apparel. Don't forget to wear comfortable shoes!

Employees: We ask that those of you who can carpool, please do so. Due to the time frame, there will be cars from the 1st and 2nd shift in the parking lot at the same time. Parking will be very limited and your cooperation is appreciated.
CHIRLA Looks at Van Nuys Raid
04/03/08
Strong Voices
Watch this devastating video of a Van Nuys company being raided. Micro Solutions Enterprises is a family-run manufacturer and distributor of toner cartridges and other printing equipment. CHIRLA is an LA-based immigrant rights group.

See the Video
The Case for Open Borders
04/09/08
Press

Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Robert Z. Nemeth
April 6, 2008

Whereas many conservative Republicans have taken on an anti-immigrant political tone, Jason Riley, one of the editors of the Wall Street Journal, has written a book which makes a conservative, free market argument in favor of immigration. Writes Robert Z. Nemeth, who has reviewed the book, Let Them In: The Case for Open Borders, "Two general themes run through the book: One is that today's Latino immigrants aren't different from earlier immigrants, only newer; and the other is that an open immigration policy is not only compatible with free-market conservatism and homeland security, but it is also good for the economy."

Observes Nemeth of Riley: "He blames the 'ratings-driven rhetoric' of radio talk show hosts, misguided neo-Malthusians (overpopulation alarmists) and assorted political opportunists for stoking the fire of anti-immigrant fervor that, he points out, goes all the way back to Benjamin Franklin. 'Scapegoating foreigners for domestic problems, real or imagined, is something of an American tradition,' he says."

Read More
Opinion: Immigrant Scapegoats
04/24/08
Press

The Wall Street Journal
Jason Riley
April 24, 2008

Blaming immigrants during times of economic downturn is nothing new. Editorialist Jason Riley tackles the incorrect assumption that "a job filed by an immigrant is one less job for a native." Riley asserts that immigrants create a more "flexible" environment in which immigrants often fill jobs that "complement U.S. workers, not elbow them aside."

Read More
New
Judge Calls Immigration Officials' Decision 'Beyond Cruel'
04/08/08
Press

Los Angeles Times
Henry Weinstein
March 13, 2008

The ruling says a detainee who later died of penile cancer was denied a biopsy of a lesion though several doctors said the procedure was urgently needed. His family will be allowed to seek damages.

Read More
CHERTOFF'S PREDICTION ON
AUGUST 11, 2007:
Immigration rules will hurt economy
04/07/08
Reflection

Los Angeles Times
Nicole Gaouette
August 11, 2007

On August 8th, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, and Commerce Secretary Carlos M. Gutierrez, explained at a Conference of State Legislatures in Boston, that Congress's failure to pass immigration reform will hurt the American economy. Although this article was written last year, it details the government's awareness of how an immigration crackdown, and how measures like the 'No Match' law, will negatively impact the economy. It is well known that LA is the city that is most deeply dependent on unauthorized workers, and is therefore the most economically vulnerable. He characterizes the effect enforcement measures will have on businesses as a "thunderstorm" to "tsunami". "There will be some unhappy consequences for the economy out of doing this," he said in an interview with The Times.

Read More
Chertoff: Failure of Immigration Reform Led to
Extreme Measures


Newsday
John Christoffersen
April 7, 2008

In a recent speech by Michael Chertoff, Secretary of Homeland Security, calls for a "comprehensive" solution while speaking at Yale, April 7th.

Read More
Bill Gates To Testify Before Congress
04/07/08
Summary
Bill Gates supports immigration reform too. At American Apparel we believe a more open immigration policy is good for business. Motivated industrial workers, professionals, artists, scientists, and entrepreneurs are always needed to keep America exciting and competitive. It seems like Bill Gates agrees to this line of thinking.
Scrap the Visa Cap

The Wall Street Journal
Shikha Dalmia
April 5, 2008

Shikha Dalmia, analyst and US immigrant, explains in her article, entitled Scrap the Visa Cap, "America's political leaders are so fixated on illegal immigration they've barely noticed that the U.S. is losing the race for the [most crucial resource in the knowledge economy: intellectual capital]. The cap on skilled worker (H1-B) visas is currently so low (65,000) that in April last year it got used up within a day of these visas becoming available, leaving thousands of left over engineers to be scooped up by America's competitors."

Read More
Planning the War on Immigrants
04/11/08
Analysis

International Relations Center
Tom Barry
December 13, 2007

"'Attrition through enforcement' as a restrictionist framework for immigration reform has been percolating within the anti-immigration institutes in Washington, DC for the last couple of years. But it wasn't until the restrictionist movement beat back proposals for legalization that the strategy has taken hold as a unifying framework for restrictionism in America," reads this article entitled, "Planning The War on Immigrants." Whereas the Bush administration had previously argued in favor of immigration reform, following their failure to convince Congress to bring it about comprehensively, the government seems to have done a 180; they've adopted an enforcement-only approach purely for political reasons. According to the article: "Politics can be an ugly affair, and it doesn't get any uglier than when politicians try to best one another in the politics of hate and scapegoating." On one hand the government can blame their enforcement approach on Congress, for not having enacted immigration reform; on the other hand they can appease anti-immigrant forces, to help it win political points. "That's what is happening in America, as politicians and political candidates at all levels of government join the anti-immigration bandwagon. Meanwhile, immigrants who do the dirtiest work in America are living in fear as they face a generalized immigration crackdown and stepped-up immigration raids," explains the author.

Read More
Special Order 40
04/18/08
Press

89.3 KPCC (Southern California Public Radio)
Air Talk with Larry Mantle
April 16, 2008

Special Order-40 is a 35-year-old law that prevents LAPD officers from initiating an investigation for the sole purpose of determining an individual's legal status. It was implemented to allow undocumented residents who are victims of crimes or have valuable information regarding a crime, to come forward without fear of being deported. SO-40 does not prevent the LAPD from inquiring an individual's legal status, and reporting the findings to ICE, if an undocumented worker was arrested for a crime. Larry Mantel of 89.3 KPCC speaks with stakeholders on the issue.

Listen to Audio (29m19s, MP3, 12MB)
Immigration targeted family, activist says
04/07/08
Press

Miami Herald
Andres Viglucci
March 4, 2008

The Pachecos and their attorneys are making a touchy allegation: They contend Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents targeted the family to silence Gaby, a leader in efforts to legalize immigrant students who, like herself, were brought to the United States by their parents without permanent legal status.

Read More
New
Opinion: Villaraigosa on immigration
04/11/08
Press

Los Angeles Times
April 11, 2008

Los Angeles Times editorial applauds the mayor for his stance on business and immigration. "Villaraigosa's willingness to brave such vitriol on behalf of good policy is genuine leadership," explains the article.

Read More

On March 27, 2008, Mayor Villariaigosa sent a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff. The letter states: "Together with the region's business leadership, I am gravely concerned that ICE's current apparent focus on non-exploitive employers in and around the City of Los Angeles could have severe and lasting effects on our local economy." He goes on to say, "Enforcement actions have targeted established, responsible employers with deep and enduring roots in and contributions to Los Angeles community and economic development."

Read the Letter (PDF, 195 KB)
INS: Two indicted in document-shredding case
04/04/08
Press

CNN.com
Terry Frieden
January 31, 2003

How did we get to a point of crises with regard to the US immigration system? One issue has been how bureaucratic the system has been, and how it has been prone to delay as illustrated in this article from back in 2003.

Read More
U.S. immigration raids violated constitution: suit
04/03/08
Press

Reuters
Jon Hurdle
April 3, 2008

There are those that claim that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency's "Operation Return to Sender" campaign is unconstitutional. Lawsuits have been filed by 10 plaintiffs. Read the details here.

Read More
Editorial: How Immigrants Saved Social Security
04/02/08
Press

The New York Times
April 2, 2008

Undocumented workers add tens of billions of dollars to the Social Security pot each year. They pay taxes, but don't collect benefits. Would the people who want to "send them all back home" be willing to make up the difference and pay the taxes that the undocumented are currently paying?

Read More
What's fueling increase in violence against Latinos?
04/02/08
Press

Ventura County Star
Justin Akers Chacon
March 27, 2008

This article carefully describes how the "anti-immigrant movement has crafted in the public mind the archetype of the undocumented immigrant as Latino, criminal, and a threat to the 'American way of life.'" With this archetype carefully placed into the American consciousness, the article describes how the implementation of a variety of carefully designed anti-immigration maneuvers ultimately perpetuates an environment of fear and violence within the day to day life of Latinos.

Read More
New
The World is Watching
04/11/08
Strong Voices
The first thing you see, getting off the plane in Stockholm, Sweden, is this CNN ad for the US election. What's even more interesting is that it's strictly addressed from the perspective of US immigration politics. Even though CNN is giving the topic a Swedish angle to target the local audience, facts remain, that America's largest news channel has acknowledged an overseas engagement in the US immigration issue.

See the Ad

Translation:

USA, the country where more than 14 million people have Swedish heritage. Who wins the election, affects you. The presidential election in USA, is closer to us than you think.

Republicans, even if the opinions of the president candidates are divided, the majority is for a tougher immigration politics.

Democrats, in general positive to an immigration reform and towards making ways for citizenship for undocumented workers.
Editorial: A Foolish Immigration Purge
04/02/08
Press

The New York Times
March 27, 2008

Leave it to the Bush administration to throw thousands of law-abiding American workers and companies off a cliff in perilous economic times.

Read More
Immigrant Influx Raises Wages Of Native Workers In California
04/02/08
Press

Public Policy Institute of California
Giovanni Peri
February 27, 2007

Study by the Public Policy Institute of California, concludes that wages have increased as a result of immigration.

Read More
Top 10 Immigration Myths and Facts
04/02/08
Press
There is a staggering amount of misinformation about immigrants in this country, sometimes supported, occasionally even perpetuated by the media. The National Immigration Forum separates fact from fiction with their Top 10 Immigration Myths and Facts.

Read Top 10 Immigration Myths and Facts
U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Comprehensive Immigration Reform
03/26/08
Strong Voices
American Apparel applauds the position of the US Chamber of Commerce's efforts to bring about immigration reform in the United Sates. Here is a radio address by Angelo Amador, on the subject.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.

Listen to Radio Address and Read Transcript
Don't Forget Immigration Reform
03/22/08
Press

Los Angeles Times
Dowell Myers and Manuel Pastor
March 22, 2008

Immigrants should not be viewed as a problem to be solved but an asset to our regional future. New research must be developed, then shared and debated, if we are to build a broader understanding of our interwoven destinies" writes Dowell Myers and Manuel Pastor, in this fantastic opinion piece which appeared in the LA Times. Amongst other things the article references a Public Policy Institute of California that "found that immigrants often complement local labor and actually prop up real wages for most native-born Californians.

Read More
Hurry Up And Let Them In
03/20/08
Press

Forbes
Angelo A. Paparelli
March 20, 2008

Commentary in FORBES supporting immigration reform, which will bloster job creation, and stimulate the economy. With respect to the anti-immigration position, the author writes, "Why must this folly continue? No reason--except for a pusillanimous Congress, cowed by cable TV pundits and bloviating bloggers who fuel the flames of xenophobia, all of whom have apparently forgotten the public's emphatic rejection of every anti-immigration candidate running for election this primary season."

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GOP Should Quit Playing Games with Immigration
03/17/08
Press

Mercury News
March 17, 2008

San Jose Mercury News has it right, in an editorial entitled GOP should quit playing games with immigration. There was a time when there was some leadership within the Republican party on the immigration issue. McCain spoke to the issue well, and even George Bush got it. But now McCain has changed his focus to emphasizing the border wall, even though it is estimated that half the illegal immigrants enter the country legally as visitors. We hope that pro-immigration Republican voices will soon surface. It is well known that immigrants create jobs, wealth, and prosperity for all Americans.

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Immigration Enforcement Chief Speaks on Security 03/13/08
Press

The Harvard Law Record
Andrea Saenz
March 13, 2008

At American Apparel, we are not alone calling for immigration reform. Even the head of I.C.E. wants immigration reform. Speaking at Harvard, Julie Myers, the Immigration and Enforcement Chief, expressed her hope that a new president will press for comprehensive immigration reform, which failed in Congress last year. Asked why I.C.E. continued to prioritize large-scale workplace raids if Myers hoped those workers would soon be able to legalize their status, she replied that in the absence of immigration reform, she could not ignore the law, and that I.C.E. raids on companies were "righteous" because they resulted in the arrest of immigrants engaged in identity theft. What she failed to mention is that companies are subject to raids even if they are fully in compliance with federal laws that require all employers to check workers documents showing authorization to work in the US. She also failed to mention that following I.C.E. raids employers immediately hire new employees, again fully comply with federal laws requiring that new employees documents be checked, and the new employees are just as likely to be using unauthorized documents as those who were arrested. In short, these I.C.E. workplace enforcement actions cost the tax-payers a bundle, separate families, seriously harm employers who are fully complying with all laws, and accomplish little other than the arrest of less than 1% of the undocumented work force living in the U.S. At American Apparel we believe the only real solution is to promptly legalize those workers who have not engaged in criminal conduct and are hard-working and productive members of their communities. Click here to see an an article written about Myers speech published in The Record, the independent newspaper of the Harvard Law School.

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Arkansas Woman, Left in Cell, Goes 4 Days With No Food or Water 03/12/08
Press

The New York Times
Adam Nossiter
March 12, 2008

The New York Times reports that Adriana Torres-Flores, a 38-year-old mother of three and an illegal immigrant, was left forgotten in an Arkansas courthouse cell for 4 days over the weekend without any food or water after a hearing.

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Hate Crimes Linked to Immigration Debate 03/09/08
Press
Associated Press
David Crary
March 9, 2008

The anti-immigration sentiment has resulted in more white supremacist hate groups in America.

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U.N. report criticizes U.S. treatment of migrants 03/08/08
Press

The Los Angeles Times
Teresa Watanabe
March 8, 2008

A investigator for the U.N. finds that America does not adequately protect the human rights of noncitizens and they are subjected to increased prolonged detentions in substandard facilities.

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Border Insecurity 03/04/08
Press

The New York Times
March 4, 2008

The NY Times takes a look at the government's botched plans for a border fence and their general ineptitude when it comes to immigration.

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Immigration: No Correlation With Crime 02/27/08
Press

Time
Kathleen Kingsbury
December 13, 2006

This article examines new research revealing that immigrants are far less likely than American-born citizens to commit crimes.

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New
Immigration Issues Endangering Agriculture's Future
04/09/08
Press

The Evening Sun
Steve Marroni
March 30, 2008

This article explores the myth that migrant workers are "taking away the jobs of Americans" and how the lack of immigration reform could effect the American food supply.

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Obama and Clinton 02/22/08
Strong Voices
Obama and Clinton talked sense on the issue of immigration at the Texas debates.

Read the summary on The Border Line blog.
Lucille Roybal-Allard, Member of Congress 02/20/08
Strong Voices
"I applaud American Apparel's commitment to its employees and to keeping its production facilities in downtown Los Angles, while so many businesses are moving their operations overseas. It's encouraging to know that American Apparel is defying this trend, while preserving hundreds of local jobs and at the same time increasing its bottom line. If other companies followed American Apparel's business practices, our American economy would be stronger today."

See the Letter
Bill Marriott 02/18/08
Strong Voices
Marriott President supports immigration reform.

Read more about it here.
L.A. Area Organizations Issue Declaration For Human Rights For Immigrants 02/11/08
Press

Anti-Defamation League
December 13, 2006

Last December 2006, a coalition of 18 human rights, defense and religious organizations signed the "Declaration of Los Angeles."

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Inner-City 100 02/11/08
Press

American Apparel is one of the 100 fastest growing inner city companies in the USA.

See More Awards
American Apparel Employees 01/30/08
Slideshow
Parts 1 and 2

Launch Slideshow
Politics Wrapped in a Clothing Ad 01/18/08
Press

The New York Times
Louise Story
January 18, 2008

The New York Times takes a look at American Apparel's stance on immigration reform, along with its new ad campaign.

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May 1, March for Workers Rights 01/30/08
Archive
In 2002, American Apparel participated in the May Day March for Dignity.

See the Video
A Day Without an Immigrant 01/07/08
Slideshow
Downtown Los Angeles - May 1, 2006

Launch Slideshow
Do the Right Thing 12/28/07
Press

Women's Wear Daily
Marcy Medina
December 28, 2007

Dov Charney is interviewed by WWD about his views on immigration reform and the effect it has on American Apparel.

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American Apparel, Immigrant Success Story 12/27/07
Press

National Public Radio
Mandalit del Barco
April 28, 2006

Back in 2006 NPR got Dov Charney's thoughts on the importance of immigrants to the U.S. economy.

Listen to NPR Morning Edition
Quicktime | Mp3
Read the Transcript
Employer Is for Open U.S. Door 12/27/07
Press

The Los Angeles Times
Michael Hiltzik
April 20, 2006

Dov Charney speaks candidly to The Los Angeles Times about his progressive views on immigration policy.

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Idea City 12/27/07
Archive
Dov Charney, back in July 2003, spoke at an intellectual conference in Toronto, Canada on the issue of immigration.

See the Video
See More Lectures
Made in America, Lou Dobbs 12/27/07
Archive
American Apparel on Lou Dobbs, praised as a "Made in America" success story.

See the Video
Honoree of the Year, County of Los Angeles 12/26/07
Archive
The County of Los Angeles honors Dov Charney for his achievements in the fashion industry. (2004)

See the Award
Congressional Acknowledgment Honoree of the Year, Washington D.C. 12/26/07
Archive
Congressman Henry Waxman acknowledges Dov Charney and his commitment to the apparel industry. (2004)

See the Award
Mayoral Recognition, Honoree of the Year, City of Los Angeles 12/26/07
Archive
Mayer James Hahn extends his congratulations to Dov Charney for his annual Fashion Industry Guilds annual "Honoree of the Year" ceremony. (2004)

See the Award
Meet Our
Workers
The men and women of
American Apparel
What Does
Legalize LA
Mean?

This document explains in brief what we mean by "Legalize LA", and what you can do to join the fight for immigrant rights.

Download the PDF (5.1MB)
Watch
Illegal L.A.

VBS.TV's eight part series on immigration in Los Angeles features an interview with American Apparel founder Dov Charney.

Watch
Immigration
Fact Sheet
05/2008

The Immigration Fact Sheet identifies the extremist anti-immigration agenda, and reveals the truth about the ongoing value of immigrants in the United States.

See the Fact Sheet

Download the PDF (5.1MB)
Legalize LA T-Shirt


Unisex Legalize LA T-Shirt
100% of net proceeds will go to Los Angeles-based immigrant rights groups.
The Ad

Pro Immigration Ad run in The New York Times, The LA Times and other publications.

See the Ad
See the Spanish Version
10 Facts About Immigrants
Get the straight facts on some common misconceptions about immigrants.
1 Immigrants pay taxes
2 Immigrants come to work and reunite with family members
3 Immigrants and their businesses contribute $162 billion in tax revenue
4 Immigrant entrepreneurs create jobs for U.S. and foreign workers
5 Immigrants fill jobs in key sectors, start their own businesses, and contribute to the economy
6 Within ten years of arrival, more than 75% of immigrants speak English
7 Today's immigrants are not that different than those of 100 years ago
8 Most immigrants come to the US legally
9 Despite more strongly enforced US border security, the number of undocumented immigrants has not decreased
10 The war on terrorism cannot be won through immigration restrictions
Read all 10 Immigration Myths and Facts, compiled by The National Immigration Forum.
It's a Fact

FACT: Over 3,100 people have died trying to enter the US through the desert over the past ten years. By comparison, only 239 people died trying to cross the Berlin Wall during its 28 years of existence.

FACT: It is estimated that 10% of L.A.'s population is falsely documented.
Community Photos

Great Swap Meet signage in MacArthur Park
Meet more people from the factory
Quotes

John F. Kennedy
President of the United States

"This was the secret of America: a nation of people with the fresh memory of old traditions who dared to explore new frontiers, people eager to build lives for themselves in a spacious society that did not restrict their freedom of choice and action."

"Immigration policy should be generous; it should be fair; it should be flexible. With such a policy we can turn to the world, and to our own past, with clean hands and a clear conscience."

"Every ethnic minority, in seeking in its own freedom, helped strengthen the fabric of liberty in American life. Similarly, every aspect of the American economy has profited from the contributions of immigrants."

"The contribution of immigrants can be seen in every aspect of our national life. We see it in religion, in politics, in business, in the arts, in education, even in athletics and in entertainment. There is no part of our nation that has not been touched by our immigrant background."

From John F. Kennedy's 1958 book A Nation of Immigrants
Michael R. Bloomberg
Mayor, New York City

"It would destroy the economy if you deported them. They are here, yes, against the law, but they're here with the complicity of the U.S. government. The U.S. government deliberately looked away since 1986, the last time we had immigration reform."

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, has been especially vocal and blunt in his criticism of the nation's failed immigration policy and stalled efforts to reform it in Congress. Last year, he made the following remarks:

"[Lawmakers] should all look back on their history and realize that if we had had the laws that they are proposing in many cases, they wouldn't be here because their parents or grandparents would not have been here."

"The guest-worker program is a joke. Nobody's going to go home for a year and come back. Nobody could ever enforce that. Nobody in their right mind would ever try to do it."

"We don't have an army big enough to deport them. It would destroy the economy if you deported them. They are here, yes, against the law, but they're here with the complicity of the U.S. government. The U.S. government deliberately looked away since 1986, the last time we had immigration reform."

"Having something that gives them permanent status and some road to citizenship is a big step forward."

"It is as if we expect border control agents to do what a century of communism could not: Defeat the natural forces of supply and demand and defeat the natural human instinct for freedom and opportunity. You might as well sit on the beach and tell the tide not to come in."

Recently, on a trip to China, Mayor Bloomberg made the following statements:

"The xenophobia that unfortunately seems to be gripping parts of America is really very dangerous."

"America became the world's leading economic nation by welcoming immigrants - and New York became America's leading commercial city by inviting them to stay. Immigrants built our city and country, bringing innovative new ideas to every field - and they're still at it."

Fabian Núñez
Speaker of the California State Assembly

On April 17, 2008 California State Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and 28 Assemblymembers representing nearly half the population of the state, sent a strongly worded letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff. The letter focuses on breaches of constitutional rights during documented during the raid at Micro MicroSolutions Enterprise in Van Nuys (watch the CHIRLA video about this event)

"As I.C.E. continues with its record number of worksite raids throughout Southern California, a pattern of serious problems has emerged with regard to its interrogation, detention and deportation practices."

Read the Letter
Frank Barbaro
Orange County Democratic Party Chairman

"I think this is all ridiculous. We have become incredibly addicted to this workforce — I don't know what California would do without the Latino immigration that we have, whether it's legal or illegal... we'd be up a creek without a paddle."
Who We Are at American Apparel

American Apparel has nearly 7,000 employees from over 80 countries. More than 1,900 were born in Mexico, more than 1,600 are from the United States, and over 1,200 from Central America. See a list of all the nationalities represented by our workforce.
Related Articles
Visit our Press Archive for a comprehensive listing of articles and video clips about our company.
Super Tuesday

On February 5, 2008, week we posted this Super Tuesday slideshow on our homepage.
Words of Support

"I just read your ad in the Times, it brought me to tears. I am a mexican immigrant and this issue is so near to my heart because it affects me and my family on a daily basis...."

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