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11:09, 11 January 2018

Immigration Agents Target 7-Eleven Shops in Push to Punish Employers

Immigration Agents Target 7-Eleven Retailers in Push to Punish Employers


Federal immigration agents descended on dozens of 7-Eleven comfort retailers across the nation before daybreak on Wednesday, arresting undocumented workers and demanding paperwork from managers, in what the Trump administration described as its largest enforcement operation against employers so far.

The sweeps of 98 retailers in 17 states, from California to Florida, resulted in 21 arrests, according to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which signaled intensified efforts against companies that employ unauthorized workers.

“Today’s actions send a sturdy message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal work force: ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable,” Thomas D. Homan, the acting director of the agency, mentioned in a statement.

Mr. Homan, the nation’s prime immigration-enforcement official, has promised much more scrutiny of companies that knowingly violate federal laws requiring employers to confirm the identity and employment eligibility of their workers.

Below President Trump, ICE has drastically expanded immigration enforcement, arresting undocumented immigrants in their residences or when they check in with federal agents as element of immigration court situations.

In a statement, 7-Eleven Inc., primarily based in Irving, Tex., distanced itself from the scenario, saying that the individual shops are franchises that belong to independent business owners, who “are solely accountable for their workers, like deciding who to hire and verifying their eligibility to perform in the United States.”

“7-Eleven requires compliance with immigration laws seriously and has terminated the franchise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws,” the organization mentioned.

If ICE hoped to make a bold statement, it could hardly pick a a lot more iconic target than 7-Eleven, a chain identified for ubiquitous retailers that are open all the time and sell the considerably-loved Slurpees and Large Gulps. Numerous a 7-Eleven franchise has been a steppingstone for new legal immigrants who want to personal and run their own tiny companies.

Not all franchisees have been scrupulous about whom they employ. ICE named its Wednesday sweep a “follow-up” of a 2013 investigation that resulted in the arrests of nine 7-Eleven franchise owners and managers on Long Island and in Virginia on charges of employing undocumented workers. A number of have pleaded guilty and forfeited their franchises, and have been ordered to pay millions of dollars in back wages owed to the workers.

“This undoubtedly sends a message to employers,” mentioned Ira Mehlman, the spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors a lot more limits on immigration and stricter enforcement.

According to ICE, federal agents served inspection notices to 7-Eleven franchises in California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington State and Washington, D.C.

Personnel at two 7-Eleven retailers on Staten Island stated that immigration agents visited the retailers on Wednesday. But the agents have been shown valid employment records with Social Security numbers, two workers at every single of the stores mentioned, and no a single was arrested.

In all, 16 of the 98 retailers visited on Wednesday were in the New York City area, according to an ICE spokeswoman, Rachael Yong Yow, who would not specify their places.

In Miami Beach, an employee at one particular 7-Eleven said that even though no agents showed up at her store, her boss asked workers to make sure their employment records were up to date, in case ICE continued its visits. Agents dropped in on 7-Eleven stores in seven cities in southeast Florida, which includes Miami Beach, according to Nestor Yglesias, an ICE spokesman he, too, declined to determine distinct stores.

Below President George W. Bush, ICE grabbed headlines by rounding up unauthorized workers at meatpacking plants, fruit suppliers, carwashes and residences. In a shift, the agency under President Barack Obama focused on catching border crossers, deporting convicted criminals and pursuing employers on paper, by inspecting the I-9 types that employers are required to fill out and maintain to confirm their workers’ eligibility.

By targeting 7-Eleven franchisees and their workers on Wednesday, ICE beneath Mr. Trump appeared to be melding the approaches of his two predecessors: Go after employers while also detaining staff whom agents encountered without work authorization.

One particular of the biggest workplace immigration raids, in May possibly 2008, resulted in the detention of practically 400 undocumented immigrants, like numerous young children, at an Iowa meatpacking plant. Sholom Rubashkin, the chief executive of the Agriprocessors plant, which was then the biggest kosher meatpacking operation in the country, was eventually convicted of bank fraud in federal court.

President Trump commuted Mr. Rubashkin’s 27-year prison sentence final month, right after years of lobbying by a number of prominent lawyers and politicians who regarded his term unduly harsh, and possibly even anti-Semitic.


An earlier version of this post misstated when almost 400 people were detained in an immigration raid at an Iowa meatpacking plant. The raid was in Could 2008, not July.

Stick to Patricia Mazzei on Twitter: @PatriciaMazzei.

Liz Robbins contributed reporting.

A version of this write-up seems in print on , on Page A16 of the New York edition with the headline: Immigration Agents Raid 98 7-Elevens in 17 States. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe


Published at Thu, 11 Jan 2018 00:47:24 +0000

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