By Karina Hernandez and Max Parrott
After moving to New York from Guatemala in 2005, Elias Rojas got his first job in the country working in Tom Cat Bakery’s warehouse. In early 2017, an audit from the Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement led the bakery to fire Rojas along with dozens of his co-workers for not providing documentation proving their eligibility to work in the U.S.
The firing prompted Rojas and his coworkers to begin a campaign demanding that Tom Cat Bakery change its protections for undocumented workers against ICE. As of this April, the workers will have been fighting for a year.
Their goal is to get Tom Cat and other companies to adopt policies suggested by National Employment Law Project and National Immigration Law Center to protect immigrant workers from future investigations planned by ICE. The department’s deputy director Thomas Homan announced in December of last year that he wants to see a 400 percent increase in work site inspections. ICE recently raided a Tennessee slaughterhouse last week, arresting 97 immigrant workers.
While the city council passed a law in October that bans police and other city employees from enforcing immigration laws, it does not have any legislation that is aimed at local businesses.