Eight people were arrested outside the Downtown Minneapolis location of Chipotle last Thursday for staging a sit-in to protest the termination statewide of 50 of the companyâÄôs employees. The protesters have mistakenly targeted their frustrations at the company instead of the federal laws that permitted the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency to mandate the firings.
The employees were fired as a result of an ICE document audit, in which workers had to prove their legally documented worker status. If fraudulent documents are found, companies must correct them by a given deadline and terminate workers unable to do so or face criminal charges and fines of over $800 per employee. Under the Obama Administration, ICE has conducted these so-called desktop raids on more than 2,900 companies.
Protesters argue that some employees did not receive their final paycheck, but Chipotle spokesperson Chris Arnold explained, “WeâÄôre paying employees any and all wages that are owed, including bonuses earned and any unused vacation time.” He added, “When we met with workers, we said, âÄòif you are aware of any case in which someone is still owed, have them contact us.âÄô Since then we have not heard from a single person.” He also said that “All employees whose status has been questioned by ICE are being provided with the opportunity to provide documentation to correct any administrative errors that may have been made.”
While many were upset by the layoffs, protesting Chipotle âÄîa company simply operating according to federal law âÄî will not help any supposedly wronged employees prove their legal status, nor will it change national immigration policy.