Immigration Agents Raid 7-Eleven Stores

Agents targeted hundreds of stores to open employment audits and interview workers.
January 11, 2018

LOS ANGELES – The Associated Press reports the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents descended on dozens of 7-Eleven stores early Wednesday “to open employment audits and interview workers in what officials described as the largest operation against an employer under Donald Trump's presidency.”

The news source writes that ICE agents targeted about 100 U.S. stores, and the audits could lead to criminal charges or fines over the stores' hiring practices.

“The action appears to open a new front in Trump's sharp expansion of immigration enforcement, which has already brought a 40% increase in deportation arrests and plans to spend billions of dollars on a border wall with Mexico,” the AP writes.

Derek Benner, a top official at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told The Associated Press that Wednesday's operation was "the first of many" and "a harbinger of what's to come" for employers. "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. From there, we will look at whether these cases warrant an administrative posture or criminal investigation," said Benner. "It's not going to be limited to large companies or any particular industry, big medium and small," he said. "It's going to be inclusive of everything that we see out there."

The news source continues that agents arrested 21 people suspected of being in the U.S. illegally during Wednesday's raids, and that the action “was aimed squarely at management.”

Brenner noted to the AP that ICE needs to make sure that employers “are on notice that we are going to come out and ensure that they're being compliant. …For those that don't, we're going to take some very aggressive steps in terms of criminal investigations to make sure that we address them and hold them accountable."

The AP says that the 7-Eleven stores served on Wednesday will be required to produce documents showing they required work authorization, which Benner said will become more common. "Just as the IRS performs audits of people all the time of their tax returns, the same purpose here is to ensure a culture of compliance in this area," he said.