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ICE crackdown targets 7-Eleven stores, arresting 21 people suspected of being in U.S. illegally

January 11, 2018  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
ICE crackdown targets 7-Eleven stores, arresting 21 people suspected of being in U.S. illegally

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United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents (ICE) detained 21 people in custody who were allegedly in the country illegally in a predawn bust targeting dozens of 7-Eleven stores across the nation.

The operation signifies the expansion of an investigation into a series of New York and Virginia franchises opened in 2013 when it was learned that several managers used stolen identities to hire at least 100 people who were illegally in the U.S.

Despite the arrests, the early raids were aimed at management.

On Wednesday, agents began employment audits and interviewed employees at almost 100 7-Eleven locations, which could result in criminal charges and penalties over the stores’ hiring tactics.

The move appears to be the latest in the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration, which has already led to a 40% increase in deportation arrests, NBC News reported.

“Today’s actions send a message to 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,” ICE Acting Director Tom Homan said.

“Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration, and we are working to remove this magnet.”

Immigration advocates across the country denounced the latest raids as only eliciting fear into communities.

“This is a family separation tactic meant to stoke fear in the hearts of our community,” Cristóbal Gutierrez, an employment legal advocate at Make the Road New York, said. “We know that workers have rights, regardless of immigration status.”

“Persecuting workers is the wrong approach and hurts families, creates chaos, and negatively impacts our nation’s economy,” Angelica Salas, the executive director of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in California, stated.

7-Eleven, which boasts over 60,000 stores worldwide, told the Washington Post in an emailed statement that the company is not responsible for the hiring of its franchise owners.

“As part of the 7-Eleven franchise agreement, 7-Eleven requires franchise and business owners to comply with federal, state and local employment laws,” the statement said. “7-Eleven takes compliance with immigration laws seriously and has terminated the franchise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws.”

Derek Benner, a top U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said that the operation is a “harbinger of what’s to come” for employers.

“This is what we’re gearing up for, and what you’re going to see more of is these large-scale compliance inspections,” he added.

ICE’s acting head of Homeland Security Relations indicated that there is no numerical goal set and that all companies are open to these kinds of raids.

“It’s not going to be limited to large companies or any industry, big, medium or small,” Benner continued. “It’s going to be inclusive of everything we see.”

The raids occurred on the heels of a bipartisan meeting on immigration, where lawmakers discussed border security and discussed DACA reform. On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled to block the Trump’s Administration’s attempts to appeal the Obama-era measure.

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