After nearly 50 immigrant workers were fired from various Chipotle restaurants in Minnesota, a immigrant rights group is questioning the reasoning.
Amidst rumors of an I-9 audit by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Minnesota Immigration Rights Action Committee (MIRAC) believes the restaurant fired the workers to avoid penalties from ICE.
“It appears to be a statewide attack on immigrant workers who are longtime employees, most of them [had] been working there for years,” said MIRAC member Brad Sigal. “It is an I-9 audit. They check the paperwork and fire anyone who can’t immediately prove they have the right to work. An action like this on a mass scale before the holidays is not consistent with the image they have cultivated.”
Chipotle gave the following statement:
“We are fully cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials in Minnesota in connection with a document request they have made.”
Denver-based Chipotle prides itself on using “food with integrity [with] commitment to finding the very best ingredients raised with respect for the animals, the environment and the farmers.” Though MIRAC is asking, what about its immigrant work force?
“The firings come a couple of weeks before Christmas, which means they won’t be getting the usual Christmas bonuses. There’s a real Scrooge element here,” said Sigel.
ICE declined to give a statement regarding a possible I-9 audit of the chain.