Immigration Agents Descend on Dozens of 7-Eleven Stores

Elliot Spagat, Associated Press, January 9, 2018

Immigration agents descended on dozens of 7-Eleven convenience stores before dawn Wednesday to begin checking on employees’ immigration status in what officials described as the largest operation against an employer under Donald Trump’s presidency.

Agents targeted about 100 stores nationwide, broadening an investigation that began four years ago with a case against a franchisee on New York’s Long Island. The audits could lead to criminal charges or fines over the stores’ hiring practices. Twenty-one people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally were arrested.

The action appears to open a new front in Trump’s expansion of immigration enforcement, which has already brought a 40 percent increase in deportation arrests.

Derek Benner, a top official at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said {snip} “This is what we’re gearing up for this year and what you’re going to see more and more of is these large-scale compliance inspections, just for starters {snip}.”

In Los Angeles’ Koreatown, seven agents who arrived in unmarked cars closed a store for 20 minutes to explain the audit to the only employee there, a clerk with a valid green card. Agents told arriving customers that the store was closed briefly for a federal inspection. A driver delivering cases of beer was told to wait in the parking lot.

{snip}

After the inspections, officials planned to look at whether the cases warrant administrative action or criminal investigations, Benner said.

“It’s not going to be limited to large companies or any particular industry, big medium and small,” he said.

{snip}

Illegal hiring is rarely prosecuted, partly because investigations are time-consuming and convictions are difficult to achieve because employers can claim they were duped by fraudulent documents or intermediaries. Administrative fines are discounted by some as a business cost.

{snip}

Julie Myers Wood, former head of ICE during the Bush administration, said Wednesday’s action showed that immigration officials were focusing their enforcement efforts on a repeat violator.

{snip}

Topics:

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.