Federal immigration agents descended on dozens of 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country before daybreak on Wednesday, arresting undocumented workers and demanding paperwork from managers, in what the Trump administration described as its largest enforcement operation against employers so far, the New York Times reported.
The sweeps of 98 stores in 17 states, from California to Florida, resulted in 21 arrests, according to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which signaled intensified efforts against businesses that hire unauthorized workers.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at a 7-Eleven in Los Angeles on Wednesday.CreditChris Carlson/Associated Press
“Today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal work force: ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable,” Thomas D. Homan, the acting director of the agency, said in a statement.
Mr. Homan, the nation’s top immigration-enforcement official, has promised more scrutiny of businesses that knowingly violate federal laws requiring employers to verify the identity and employment eligibility of their workers.
Under President Trump, ICE has significantly expanded immigration enforcement, arresting undocumented immigrants in their homes or when they check in with federal agents as part of immigration court cases.
In a statement, 7-Eleven Inc., based in Irving, Tex., distanced itself from the situation, saying that the individual stores are franchises that belong to independent business owners, who “are solely responsible for their employees, including deciding who to hire and verifying their eligibility to work in the United States.”
“7-Eleven takes compliance with immigration laws seriously and has terminated the franchise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws,” the company said.
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