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ICE Firing of 1200 Janitors Likened by SEIU to “Redecorating When the House is on Fire”

by Dara Lind on 11/10/2009 at 3:36pm

badgeThis morning, the Associated Press and Minnesota Public Radio reported that 1,200 undocumented janitors had been fired from Twin Cities company ABM under pressure from the Department of Homeland Security.

ICE worked with ABM, giving employees a few months to produce documentation and then firing those who couldn’t in four waves throughout October. None of the janitors were arrested, and ICE hasn’t yet fined the company.

This “silent firing” is the same process we saw earlier this fall, when L.A.-based American Apparel was forced to fire a quarter of its employees in September. It’s clear that the Obama administration favors these immigration enforcement tactics to the showy, headline-grabbing workplace raids ICE conducted in the Bush era, most notoriously in Postville, Iowa, in 2008.

But just because the ABM janitors weren’t arrested by ICE, unlike workers in Postville and other raid victims, doesn’t mean mass firings cause less trauma to communities. In fact, in some regards they’re even more disruptive. Three times as many people lost their jobs in the ABM firings as in Postville, after all.

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