Earlier this month, U.S. immigration agents raided dozens of 7-Eleven stores across the country, arresting 21 people in what officials describe as the largest operation against an employer under the Trump presidency. Agents targeted 98 convenience stores across 17 states, from Los Angeles to New York City, opening employment audits and interview workers in an effort to find and deport unauthorized workers.
Notices of inspection were served in California, New York, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington D.C., Oregon and more.
Under the Trump administration, these kinds of sweeps will become more common, according to Derek Benner, the acting executive associate director for ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations. During the last year, the president has been especially tough on immigration, allowing federal immigration agencies to arrest anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. In fact, this sharp expansion of immigration enforcement has already lead to a 40% increase in deportation arrests since Trump took office.
In a statement, 7-Eleven distanced themselves from the hiring practices of store owners.
"7-Eleven franchisees are independent business owners and are solely responsible for their employees including deciding who to hire and verifying their eligibility to work in the United States. This means that all store associates in a franchised store are employees of the franchisee and not 7-Eleven Inc.,” the company said.
According to ICE, the raids were a follow up to actions it took against 7-Eleven franchises a few years ago and were meant to ensure that "the company has taken the proper steps towards more responsible hiring and employment practices.”
In 2013, 9 franchise owners and managers were arrested for conspiracy to commit wire fraud, use of stolen identities and concealing and harboring undocumented employees. Of those arrested, all but one plead guilty, and were forced to pay over $2.6 million in back wages.
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