In an effort to clamp down on illegal immigration, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), on Wednesday, raided about 98 7-Eleven stores across the country to find out undocumented workers.
NBC News reported that 21 people were arrested in the nationwide crackdown on illegal employment. The immigration officers made it clear that the raids are a warning to other companies that have employed unauthorized people.
“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.
“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,” Homan added.
Inspection notice was served to the stores 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.
The managers of 7-Eleven stores across these 17 states and Washington have been given three days to submit documents validating the immigration status of their employees.
However, the officials didn’t reveal whether there was a specific reason for targeting the store chain which has 60,000 franchises worldwide and is famous for its Slurpee drinks.
Homan said the agency would continue its efforts to eliminate illegal workers which is an important reason for illegal immigration. “ICE will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration,” he said.
7-Eleven distanced itself from the issue saying that the franchise units are run by “independent business owners” who are “solely responsible for their employees, including deciding who to hire and verifying their eligibility to work in the United States.”
“7-Eleven takes compliance with immigration laws seriously and has terminated the franchise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws,” the company explained.
The ICE and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) have developed a comprehensive worksite enforcement strategy that targets employers who violate employment laws.
“This strategy incorporates a three-prong approach to conduct worksite enforcement: compliance, through I-9 inspections, civil fines and referrals for debarment; enforcement, through the arrest of employers, knowingly employing undocumented workers, and the arrest of unauthorized workers for violation of laws associated with working without authorization; and outreach, through the ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers (IMAGE) program, to instill a culture of compliance and accountability,” said a statement issued by ICE.