ICE 7-Eleven raids showcase new immigration strategy

Image U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents serve an employment audit notice at a 7 Eleven convenience store

Immigration agents raid 7-Eleven stores nationwide, arrest 21 people in biggest crackdown of Trump era

In North Sebastapol, ICE officials raided the 7-Eleven that Indian American Veena Mehta and her husband have franchised for four years.

Thomas Homan, acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), has said he will "significantly" increase work site raids because immigrants will be more hesitant to illegally enter the US if there are no jobs for October that he ordered ICE agents to ramp up their work site investigations by "four to five times". The chain with more than 8,600 convenience stores in the USA said it has previously ended franchise agreements for owners convicted of breaking employment laws.

The raids on 98 convenience stores in 17 states before dawn Wednesday kick-started audits of the owners about their hiring practices and whether managers knowingly 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 so-called employment audits and interviews with store workers could lead to criminal charges or fines.

Immigration activists, clergy members and others participate in protests against President Trump's immigration policies as the Trump administration continues to focus its attention on deportations and building a wall along the border of Mexico and the U.S.

Immigration experts told HuffPost that such highly visible workplace enforcement ― with agents showing up unannounced across the country early in the morning, questioning and arresting employees ― appears to be a show of force meant not only to keep businesses in compliance but also to demonstrate the administration's. In 2008, agents arrived by helicopter at the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, and detained almost 400 workers.

ICE said Wednesday's operations were a "follow-up" on a into 7-Eleven franchises, according to a statement. All but one pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay more than $2.6 million.

Julie Myers Wood, former head of ICE during the Bush administration, said Wednesday's action showed that immigration officials were focusing their enforcement efforts on a repeat violator. "We have seen this administration target immigrants with status and without".

MICHAEL KAUFMAN: There were a large number of workers who were arrested, but at the end of the day, it did not create a large deterrent, and it did nothing to solve the problem of the many undocumented workers that remain here contributing to our economy and supporting their families. But, he said, the administration would need to go beyond audits. The clerk told agents he had no knowledge of documents required to prove eligibility to work and was asked to pass along brochures for voluntary programs aimed at better compliance with immigration laws.

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