WASHINGTON - U.S. Immigration and Customs and other federal agents fanned out across the nation targeting 7-Eleven convenience store in a bid to sort out if the franchise stores had any unauthorized workers.
A total of 21 people suspected of being unauthorized workers were arrested and ordered to appear in immigration court across 98 stores. The raids come as President Trump promised to increase scrutiny of immigration policies and to especially increase deportations of undocumented residents staying in the U.S.
“Today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce: ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable,” said Thomas D. Homan, ICE Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director in a statement.
“Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet. ICE will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration.”
Under federal law, employers are required to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all hired individuals. ICE agents can serve a notice of inspection to alert businesses that officials are going to audit their hiring records to check for compliance with the law.
Wednesday's sweeps took place in 18 states including California, Washington and Oregon. In Northern California, ICE officials inspected stores in Napa, Santa Clara, Santa Rosa, Suisun City, North Sebastopol and Petaluma.
The sweeps stem from a 2013 case that resulted in the arrest of nine franchise owners and managers for conspiring to commit wire fraud, stealing identities and concealing and employing undocumented immigrants at their stores, according to the statement.
ICE said, the investigation based off this case will remain ongoing.
Under current policy, ICE only conducts "targeted enforcement" where agents have an individual or individuals they are looking for. ICE doesn't ask people not targeted for any form of documentation and raids are always the result of targeted enforcement.