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To the Editor: Three weeks before Christmas, over 50 Latino workers were fired from several Chipotle's restaurants in the Twin Cities area. "Chipotle is fully cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in connection with...

To the Editor:

Three weeks before Christmas, over 50 Latino workers were fired from several Chipotle's restaurants in the Twin Cities area.

"Chipotle is fully cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials in connection with a document request they have made," Chipotle's corporate statement read.

"It appears to be a statewide attack on immigrant workers who are longtime employees, most of them [had] been working there for years," said a spokesman for the immigrants. "It is an I-9 audit. They check the paperwork and fire anyone who can't immediately prove they have the right to work."

Chipotle is still in business, and even rumored to be expanding to Duluth.

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Last April, 12 illegal immigrants were apprehended as they were going to work for Southern Maintenance Contractors at the Sappi paper mill in Cloquet. The immigrants were quickly deported.

In 2009, over 1,200 janitors who worked for American Building Maintenance (ABM) in Minnesota were fired for being undocumented. ABM is still in business. It's unclear whether any of these businesses will face any consequences for hiring illegal immigrants.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 made it a crime for companies to knowingly hire illegal immigrants. These employers say they do their utmost to comply. Who are they kidding? Since 2006, employers have been able to use government programs such as e-verify and IMAGE to determine if their employees have legal documentation. Their claim that dozens or hundreds of violations of immigration law is still unavoidable is absurd. These violations are now willful neglect, big fines need to be levied and even jail should be considered. Any future legislation designed to fix the immigration problem should not solely focus on the immigrants. It should also include stronger penalties for companies clearly not abiding by the law.

It is the opinion of the Carlton County Central Labor Body that the hiring of illegal immigrants is not only illegal but also immoral. It is unfair to the illegal immigrants, who are lured to this country and motivated to break the law by companies and large corporations who turn a blind eye at the time of hiring. Illegal immigrants have no rights, no recourse, as the company is free to use and abuse them at will. Who are they going to complain to? It is likely that some of the individual workers in the cases above were not given all of the compensation they were due at the time of their release.

Further, due to their blackmailed workforce, the companies that hire illegal immigrants have a competitive advantage over legitimate businesses that hire only US citizens. Legitimate businesses are economically pressured, some simply cannot compete and are forced out of business.

Ten million illegal immigrants in the U.S. exacerbates an already bloated labor market that lowers wages and demoralizes American workers. This downward pressure on the wages of low and middle class families is desired by the wealthiest 2 percent of this country and is another reason the practice of hiring illegals has been allowed to continue. Low wages and low morale keeps society dependent, more pliable, and less resistant to the desires of big business.

The Carlton County Central Labor Body would like to remind citizens and businesses that every purchase is an economic vote. If a company is performing illegal or immoral activities, your purchase condones that activity. Please support legitimate businesses that support community standards.

Mike Kuitu, President

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Carlton County Central Labor Body

Related Topics: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
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