Federal agents sweep nearly 100 7-Eleven stores in immigration investigation

Federal immigration agents targeted nearly 100 7-Eleven stores across the nation for audits and inspections Wednesday, including several locations in Los Angeles, as the Trump administration ramps up workplace raids to punish employers hiring people who are in the country illegally.

A total of 21 people were arrested on suspicion of being in the U.S. illegally as Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents served inspection notices at convenience stores in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

Administration officials argue workplace raids will decrease illegal immigration by placing pressure on employers with fines and possible criminal charges. And to make its point Wednesday, the Trump administration drew a bull’s-eye on one of the country’s most prominent convenience store chains, whose outlets are staples of thousands of American neighborhoods.

“Today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce: ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable,” acting ICE Director Thomas D. Homan said in a statement.

While declining to comment on 7-Eleven specifically, Paparelli said corporations that use the franchise model — placing more of the legal burden on local store owners — can still potentially be held liable.

“But that would vary on a case-by-case basis,” Paparelli said.

Immigration advocates said sweeps such as those that occurred Wednesday also were part of the Obama administration’s immigration enforcement strategy.

But targeting employers with sanctions doesn’t work, said Winnie Kao, litigation director and senior staff attorney for the workers’ rights program at Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

“Employer sanctions are a broken system,” she said. “They terrorize workers, drive workers underground, and lead to workplace abuses and violations by unscrupulous employers. They also unfairly shift immigration enforcement to employers.”


Twitter: @mattdpearce



5:35 p.m.: The article was updated with additional background on previous enforcement actions, as well as comments from political officials and immigration analysts.

10:55 a.m.: The article has been updated throughout with staff reporting and comments from acting ICE Director Thomas D. Homan and 7-Eleven.

The article was originally published at 9:30 a.m.

Powered by WPeMatico