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(코리아타운뉴스) Sewing Businesses Frightened Over Trump’s victory

"80% of working people are undocumented”

Donald Trump, who has vowed to reinforce stricter U.S. immigration policies, has at last become president. Although his victory on Tuesday was not followed by another remark about building a wall between Mexico and the U.S., it is overwhelmingly conceivable that the Trump administration’s immigration policy will be far stricter.

The most frightened industry following Trump’s victory was Downtown L.A.’s sewing business, in which many of the factories have employed undocumented Hispanic immigrants who entered and resided in the U.S. illegally for many years.

“Most Korean-owned sewing factories are employing undocumented immigrants,” said one anonymous source. “At least 80 percent of the people working at the factories are probably undocumented.”

Sewing factories in Southern California are already struggling amid the rise of the minimum wage as well as the clampdown on labor laws. Stripping them of access to a wider range of potential employees may even cause the collapse of the entire industry.

“Undocumented employees are not just in the sewing business,” said Korean-American Garment Industry Association chairman-elect Sang-woong Hwang. “It would be impossible to deport all of them at once. If children in the U.S. continue to lose their parents to the immigration clampdown, this could really burden the government operation. I would like to think that the government will seek ways to proceed with its plan step by step.”

Hwang added: “Many manufacturers in L.A. are now looking for factories that abide by labor laws. We’re starting to see an increase of demand for rightfully operated businesses. If the trend continues, that would make things a bit more comfortable for owners to operate their factories.”

As explained by Hwang, such a trend may work hand in hand with the incoming president’s immigration policy to create a lawful work environment.

“There may be factories that will close down suddenly due to shortage of manpower if undocumented workers lose their jobs,” said one sewing factory owner in downtown. “However, the ones that survive will hire employees with higher pay, which in turn will drive up the quality of their operation as they would have to charge a different rate for their work.”

The apparel businesses in downtown’s fashion district, which have already relocated their manufacturing bases to Mexico, are facing the biggest obstacle as Trump is actively opposing the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“The manufacturers have moved to Mexico to avoid higher wages in the U.S.,” said women’s apparel business See You Friday owner Yoon-sae Lee. “Considering the currency and other factors, it would be difficult for those manufacturers to return to the country, especially since labor gap would open up even further if the anti-government policy takes place.”


By Moon Ho Kim



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