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

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John Sandweg, an acting ICE director under Obama, said significant fines instilled fear in employers and draining resources from other enforcement priorities.

The well-rehearsed scene, executed with quiet efficiency in Los Angeles' Koreatown, played out at about 100 7-Eleven stores in 17 states and the District of Columbia, a rolling operation that officials called the largest immigration action against an employer under Donald Trump's presidency. "ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable".

ICE said Wednesday's operations were a "follow-up" on a into 7-Eleven franchises, according to a statement.

Seventeen states were raided, those states included Oregon, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Washington D.C.

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He added that the crackdown would help to protect jobs for American citizens by "eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration".

"7-Eleven franchisees are independent business owners and are exclusively responsible for their employees, including deciding who to hire and verifying their eligibility to work in the United States", the company said. "From there, we will look at whether these cases warrant an administrative posture or criminal investigation".

Until questioned by the Times, a spokesperson for Governor Jay Inslee's office said they didn't understand the extent of the cooperation. Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said Wednesday events offered "a good sign" that the administration was serious about going after employers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents serve an employment audit notice at a 7-Eleven convenience store on January 10, 2018, in Los Angeles.

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"7-Eleven takes compliance with immigration laws seriously and has terminated the franchise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws", the statement read.

President Trump ran on a campaign promise to prevent US business from employing undocumented workers.

ICE also conducted a similar targeted enforcement of 7-Eleven stores in 2013, which resulted in the arrest of nine managers accused of hiring workers who were living or working in the country illegally. And under him, ICE has reportedly made almost 40 percent more arrests. Several have pleaded guilty and forfeited their franchises, and have been ordered to pay millions of dollars in back wages owed to the workers. The ninth was arrested in November.

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