U.S. immigration officials targeted dozens of 7-Eleven locations across the country Wednesday morning, resulting in multiple arrests.
The Associated Press reports Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided nearly 100 stores in states like Maryland, California, Florida, and Missouri in a nationwide sweep that has been described as “the largest operation against an employer under Donald Trump’s presidency.” And it seems Wednesday’s raids are only the beginning.
“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,” Derek Benner, acting head of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, told the AP. It’s not going to be limited to large companies or any particular industry, big medium and small. It’s going to be inclusive of everything that we see out there.”
ICE agents spent the morning reviewing employment audits and interviewing workers. And although 21 people were taken into custody during the sweep, ICE suggested they were more focused on 7-Eleven’s management and hiring practices. The Wednesday raid is said to be an expansion of a 2013 investigation into New York and Virginia franchises, where managers were discovered using stolen identities to employ more than 115 people who were in the country illegally.
The targeted 7-Eleven locations in Wednesday’s sweep must now provide documents that prove managers required employees to fill out work eligibility forms. AP points out that hiring undocumented people is rarely prosecuted, in part because employers can claim they were deceived with fraudulent documents.
“We need to make sure that employers are on notice that we are going to come out and ensure that they’re being compliant,” Benner said.
The raids are the latest in the Trump administration’s efforts to up immigration enforcement. Trump has proposed to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexican border, put an end to the visa lottery system, and has attempted to roll back the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.