Around 100 7-Eleven stores nationwide were targeted by immigration agents on Wednesday morning, the Associated Press reports. Twenty-one people were reportedly arrested after the unannounced immigration check. Wednesday's coordinated operation appears to be the largest crackdown on a single company since Donald Trump took office nearly one year ago.
7-Eleven confirmed the raids to Salon, explaining that 7-Eleven franchisees are independent business owners, thus the franchisees are responsible for who they hire and their eligibility.
“As part of the 7-Eleven franchise agreement, 7-Eleven requires all franchise business owners to comply with all federal, state and local employment laws. This obligation requires 7-Eleven franchisees to verify work eligibility in the US for all of their prospective employees prior to hiring,” a 7-Eleven spokesperson wrote in an email to Salon. “As part of the 7-Eleven franchise agreement, 7-Eleven requires all franchise business owners to comply with all federal, state and local employment laws. This obligation requires 7-Eleven franchisees to verify work eligibility in the US for all of their prospective employees prior to hiring.”
The spokesperson added that 7-Eleven has “terminated” agreements with the “franchisees convicted of violating these laws.”
7-Eleven was presumably targeted after an investigation and similar 2013 raid.
The Trump administration warned more raids are on the horizon. Derek Benner, the Acting Executive Associate Director of Homeland Security Investigations, told the Associated Press that this operation was “the first of many” and “a harbinger of what’s to come.”
“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,” he said. “We need to make sure that employers are on notice that we are going to come out and ensure that they’re being compliant.”
Another official, Deputy Director Thomas Homan said in a statement that the operation will “send a strong message” to businesses that hire illegal immigrants.”
According to the Associated Press, this operation could warrant criminal charges or fines over the franchisees’ hiring process.
In 2015, there were an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the US, according to Pew Research, and 8 million were part of the US workforce. California, Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey and Illinois accounted for 59 percent of all illegal immigrants, according to Pew.