Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

American Apparel's controversial CEO on immigration policies and the economy

In case you missed it yesterday amid the sea of May Day-related stories, KPCC's BlogDowntown featured an interview with Dov Charney, the famously controversial CEO of American Apparel, the über-hip clothing company behind "Legalize LA." Charney, a Canadian by birth, is no stranger to discord. In recent years he's a) landed in hot water with ICE and been forced to fire 1,800 immigrant workers over their documents; b) been sued by former employees for sexual harassment, although allegations weren't proven; c) been sued by Woody Allen for something else.

And he has no problem remaining outspoken on immigration, even after the 2009 federal bust that added to the company's ongoing financial woes. Yesterday, American Apparel's downtown factory closed for the afternoon so workers could join the marches taking place. From the interview:

The outspoken CEO said that current immigration policies have caused a great divide throughout Los Angeles, a city with the largest immigrant population in the U.S.

"It's fragmented families -- it's also fragmented the L.A. economy. We basically have an apartheid system economy," he said.

Charney explained that many workers are stuck "in the shadows," often paying taxes but not being able to reap the benefits they deserve. And the issue spans every neighborhood in the city.

"They're not just at the convenience store in Boyle Heights," Charney said of undocumented workers. "They're in the fanciest restaurant in Beverly Hills."

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