United States immigration agents have conducted raids at almost 100 7-Eleven stores across the country in a crackdown on unauthorised workers, officials say.
"Today's actions send a strong message to US 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".
"When we talk about targeting employers, that's auditing employers to see if they followed those rules". Nine franchise owners and managers were arrested in 2013 for "conspiring to commit wire fraud, stealing identities and concealing and harboring" undocumented workers.
President Donald Trump ran on a pledge to crackdown on illegal immigration, and under his administration, ICE has increased efforts to arrest and deport those in the country illegally.
"This obligation requires 7-Eleven franchisees to verify work eligibility in the USA for all of their prospective employees prior to hiring", the company noted in a statement to the press.
Illegal hiring is rarely prosecuted, partly because investigations are time-consuming and convictions are hard to achieve because employers can claim they were duped by fraudulent documents or intermediaries.
One of the biggest workplace immigration raids, in May 2008, resulted in the detention of almost 400 undocumented immigrants, including several children, at an Iowa meatpacking plant. Several have pleaded guilty and forfeited their franchises, and have been ordered to pay millions of dollars in back wages owed to the workers. This means that all store associates in a franchised store are employees of the Franchisee and not 7-Eleven, Inc. The company has more than 8,600 stores across the country.
Neither 7-Eleven nor was its parent company, Seven & I Holding Co. based in Tokyo, was charged in that case. "Showing up at early hours across the country is showing enforcement muscle".
An ICE spokesman said the move sent a "strong message" to businesses that chose to employ undocumented staff. Hardliners have been pressing for a tougher stance on employers. "That reality has changed under the Trump administration ― and they say it themselves, that". In Koreatown, agents gathered in a grocery store parking lot and drove through side streets in unmarked cars to their target location. 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.