USA immigration agents raid 7-Eleven stores

U.S. immigration agents descended on dozens of 7-Eleven

U.S. immigration agents descended on dozens of 7-Eleven

21 people were arrested and will be required to show that they required work authorization or face criminal or administrative penalties. However, Trump's operation will focus on arresting employers because they allegedly attract other people to immigrate illegally.

"Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet", said ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan. The agents opened employment audits, interrogated employees during the process. "You're playing whack-a-mole". In a prominent example in 2008, immigration agents descended by helicopter on the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, and detained almost 400 illegal workers. Barack Obama more than doubled employer audits in 2013, according to ICE data. As NPR's Richard Gonzales reports, the action is the largest such immigration enforcement operation conducted under the Trump administration.

The operation was desrcibed by ICE agents as a follow-up from a 2013 investigation that resulted in the arrests of nine 7-Eleven franchise owners and managers in NY and Virginia. Eight of those arrested during the previous investigation have pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $2.6 million in restitution to workers owed back pay. Officials discovered evidence that the franchise owners had used at least 25 stolen identities to help hide at least 115 low-wage illegal immigrants.

"Today's service of NOIs ["notices of inspection"] throughout the United States serves as a follow-up to ensure the company has taken the proper steps towards more responsible hiring and employment practices", ICE announced.

"We have stepped up worksite enforcement, 7-Eleven was the first large one we did there are many more large ones to come", he said. Hardliners have been pressing for a tougher stance on employers.

"Persecuting workers at their place of employment is the wrong approach and only hurts families, creates chaos locally, and negatively impacts our nation's economy", Angelica Salas, executive director of Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights in California, said. But, he said, the administration would need to go beyond audits.

"It's just people working", he said.

"Notices of inspection" were delivered on Wednesday to 98 7-Eleven stores in 17 states and the District of Columbia beginning at 6 a.m.in each local time zone. The agency also declined to identify which stores, specifically, were targeted or how many stores were affected in each city. A clerk told CBS13 agents had a very specific request. The clerk told agents he had no knowledge of documents required to prove eligibility to work and was asked to pass along brochures for voluntary programs aimed at better compliance with immigration laws. If employers are not in compliance with the law, an I-9 inspection of their business will likely result in civil fines and could lay the groundwork for criminal prosecution, if they are knowingly violating the law.

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