The garment district in Downtown L.A. struggled through a scare after a rumor spread that factories were raided by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A factory is left with many of its employees missing on Feb. 16.
The rumor reportedly suggested that 30 undocumented immigrants were arrested at a Korean-owned sewing factory on Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard. As the rumor spread, inquiries came pouring in at the Korean-American Garment Industry Association (KAGI).
The calls continued to pile on, so much so that the KAGI struggled to operate as it normally does during its business hours. The Korea Daily reached out to multiple sources within the industry to confirm the rumored arrests and later discovered that it was simply a baseless hearsay.
Regardless, the widespread rumor struck enough fear into many of the employees within the industry. Some factories had anywhere from two to eight absences without notice and struggled with their production operation.
“The rumor spread widely because the Hispanic media began reporting about it from the day before,” said one Korean factory owner. “It was widely feared among the employees that investigators will be around throughout the day. It was a difficult day for us as manufacturing clothes requires everyone to complete their individual duties.”
Many Korean factory owners agreed that there is a sense of unsettlement among their staff.“I saw around two Hispanic employees leave right away as soon as someone said that a factory on 30th and Jefferson was raided by investigators,” one of them said. “I went and checked with the factory there and nothing like that happened. I feel like the undocumented immigrants are becoming increasingly unsettled nowadays.”
Approximately 80 percent of the factory workers are of the Hispanic origin. Since President Donald Trump’s declaration to further secure the borders, the unsettlement among the undocumented immigrants could potentially be fatal to the garment industry.
“It’s true that business has slowed, but we’ve had some orders come in because of the magic show in Las Vegas that’s starting next week,” said another factory owner. “But the rumor came out of nowhere and has nearly stalled our production.”
He added: “I get that undocumented immigrants with criminal records could be arrested, but most of the workers here pay their taxes and contribute to the betterment of the local economy. The standard to enforce the law should be monitored more carefully.”