Councilmember M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide) issued the following statement in response to reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) have raided various 7-Eleven retail stores targeting undocumented immigrants and checking employees’ immigration status:
“It is incredibly frustrating our federal Administration chooses to create political theater through enforcement actions of I.C.E. that threaten the stability of American businesses and their workers.
“The message of I.C.E.’s actions and their intentions are clear: they want to divide employers and workers, and feed bias, fear, and uncertainty in the workplace. Employers who want to provide good jobs in communities across the country may now be a bit hesitant to hire immigrants, and the workers who depart for work everyday face uncertainty whether they will come home to their families at the end of a shift.
“With few to no pathways for millions of our neighbors and friends to secure legal work authorization, abuse in the workplace can flourish. There are employers who will exploit the vulnerability of undocumented workers through withholding pay, harassment, or violation of other labor laws. This is both unconscionable and what our federal government should treat as a higher priority.
“Congressional Republicans continue to willfully turn a blind eye to a broken immigration system that neither helps grow prosperity nor recognizes the increasing demands of our economy and workforce. Immigrant workers are a vital part of our local and state economy yet in many ways, they are also some of the most vulnerable. Undocumented workers, especially, are almost always the ones that pay the highest price of a broken immigration system when they are deported. I.C.E.’s politically-fueled enforcement actions that result in removal orders can sometimes mean a death sentence for those who have fled violence.
“This Administration is needlessly instilling fear and dividing our communities. Congress has offered no solutions and fails to recognize the millions of immigrants who play a vital part of Washington’s and Seattle’s economy through industries like agriculture, tech, hospitality, and global trade. Congress must do better for all of us here to pursue our American Dream.”