Los Angeles sources have stated that USA immigration agents had descended on dozens of 7-Eleven stores before dawn Wednesday to open employment audits and interview workers in what officials described as the largest operation against an employer under Donald Trump's presidency.
GONZALES: For its part, Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven said in an emailed statement that its franchisees are independent business owners and exclusively responsible for who they hire and verifying who is eligible to work.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said the raids were a warning to other companies that have employed undocumented immigrants.
"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 objective of worksite enforcement is to ensure that the hiring practices of employers and owners are in compliance with USA law".
ICE Homeland Security Investigations special agents served notices of inspection, also known as I-9 audit notices, to 7-Eleven stores in California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and Washington, DC.
"7-Eleven takes compliance with immigration laws seriously and has terminated the franchise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws", the Dallas- headquartered company said in a statement.
Not all franchisees have been scrupulous about whom they hire.
In a 2013 similar raid of 7-Eleven stores in NY and Virginia, ICE arrested nine people, including eight Muslims. All but one pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay more than $2.6 million.
"This definitely sends a message to employers", said Ira Mehlman, the spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors more limits on immigration and stricter enforcement.
But ICE officers served audit notices at four stores in the Portland metro area, the agency reports. Agents said they targeted about 100 7-Eleven stores nationwide Wednesday to open employment audits and interview workers. An employee at a nearby convenience store told India-West he had heard about the early morning raid but could not confirm if anyone was arrested.
ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke told India-West that the January 10 raids were a "routine investigative component conducted by ICE Homeland Security Investigations". Accordingly 7- Eleven Stores Inc., based in Irving, Texas, with more than 8,600 stores in the USA, didn't immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
George W. Bush's administration aggressively pursued criminal investigations against employers in its final years with dramatic pre-dawn shows of force and large numbers of worker arrests. In 2008, agents arrived by helicopter at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, and detained almost 400 workers.