Legalize LA
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)
Legalize LA
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. 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 (Optional)


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 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 in January that would improve green card access for highly educated immigrants, signaling that the debate will only heat up in the new year.
Deportations tear some families apart


"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.