Immigration Agents raided 7-Eleven stores

Hundreds of immigration activists clergy members and others participate in a protest against President Donald Trump’s immigration policies in front of the Federal Building on Jan. 11 2018 in New York City

Immigration agents raid 7-Eleven stores nationwide, arrest 21 people in biggest crackdown of Trump era

Officials with 7-Eleven issued the following statement: "We are aware of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions taken at certain franchise locations".

"Under the current administration, all workers encountered during these investigations who are unauthorized to remain in the USA are subject to administrative arrest and removal from the country", ICE said in its statement on the 7-Eleven operations. This means that all store associates in a franchised store are employees of the Franchisee and not 7-Eleven, Inc.

"In the past you've seen, for the most part, the raids target individuals or even specific communities". "From there, we will look at whether these cases warrant an administrative posture or criminal investigation".

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"This obligation requires 7-Eleven franchisees to verify work eligibility in the United States for all of their prospective employees prior to hiring", the company noted in a statement to the press.

The raids on Wednesday grew out of a 2013 ICE investigation that resulted in charges against nine 7-Eleven franchisees and managers in NY and Virginia who allegedly used more than 25 stolen identities to employ over 100 people who were in the country illegally. In 2008, agents arrived by helicopter at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, and detained almost 400 workers. Several have pleaded guilty and forfeited their franchises, and have been ordered to pay millions of dollars in back wages owed to the workers. Sholom Rubashkin, the chief executive of the Agriprocessors plant, which was then the largest kosher meatpacking operation in the country, was eventually convicted of bank fraud in federal court. "Showing up at early hours across the country is showing enforcement muscle". "Today's actions send a strong message to USA businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce", ICE's Acting Director Thomas D. Homan said in a statement. 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.

Wednesday's operations were low-key compared to the Bush administration's stings. 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.

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