In what seems the largest crackdown of its kind since Trump took office, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided 98 7-Eleven stores nationwide and made 21 arrests on Wednesday.
ICE said that the operation, which took one day, should be a warning to other employers using illegal labor for their business. The agency warned that all companies that break the law will be held accountable.
The number of ICE arrests jumped 40% over the last 12 months in an effort from the Trump administration to crack down on illegal immigration. The number of deportations has also skyrocketed.
Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet,
a spokesperson for ICE told the Washington Post.
The agency claims that it is protecting American jobs since companies who use illegal workforce have an unfair competitive edge over their rivals. ICE said its agents were at the 7-Eleven stores as early as 6 a.m. on Wednesday, asking managers about the employees’ immigration status and temporarily shutting down the stores.
The raids were performed in Washington D.C. and 17 U.S. states including Michigan, Maryland, California, Florida, Illinois, Colorado, Oregon, North Carolina, New York, Washington, and Texas.
The Texas-based 7-Eleven has over 60,000 locations across the world. The company underlined that it cannot be held accountable for the franchise owners’ human resources decisions.
In a recent statement, the company insisted that franchise owners are independent business partners who have a legal obligation to check their future employees’ immigration status upon hiring. The company has reportedly ended franchise deals with store owners that failed to comply with immigration laws.
It is not the first time the ICE pays an unexpected visit to 7-Eleven. In 2013, nine franchisees and store managers were arrested in a similar raid.
Image Source: Wikimedia