Federal Immigration Authorities Target 7-Eleven Stores

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents serve an employment audit notice at a 7 Eleven convenience store Wednesday in Los Angeles

Federal Immigration Authorities Target 7-Eleven Stores

Homan added that employment opportunities offered by businesses that hire illegal workers are a factor that drives illegal immigration.

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 them.in October that he ordered ICE agents to ramp up their work site investigations by "four to five times".

7-Eleven Stores Inc., based in Irving, Texas, said in a statement that the owners of its franchises are responsible for hiring and verifying work eligibility.

Four stores in Portland were visited by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers on January 10.

Texas-based 7-Eleven, Inc. noted that the stores are owned as franchises by independent business owners who are exclusively responsible for verifying employment authorization and that "it has terminated the franchise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws". The company has more than 8,600 stores across the country. "7-Eleven takes compliance with immigration laws seriously and has terminated the franchise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws".

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Not all franchisees have been scrupulous about whom they hire.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrested 21 people in the raids, which were carried out in 17 states from California to Florida.

Eight of the accused wound up pleading guilty and were ordered to pay more than $2.6 million in back wages.

"This definitely sends a message to employers", said Ira Mehlman, the spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors more limits on immigration and stricter enforcement.

Across the country, federal immigration officials served inspection notices at close to 100 7-Eleven stores in 18 states including two in Indianapolis, four in metro Detroit and five in Chicago.

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Workplace raids like the one ICE just conducted at 7-Elevens tend to spread fear in undocumented communities by sending a message that undocumented workers are at risk of being targeted by agents at any time and potentially deported.

The so-called employment audits and interviews with store workers could lead to criminal charges or fines.

In all, 16 of the 98 stores visited on Wednesday were in the New York City area, according to an ICE spokeswoman, Rachael Yong Yow, who would not specify their locations. ICE swooped into meatpacking plants, poultry processors, fruit suppliers and other businesses. 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.

According to the WNDU16 the notices are meant to verfiy businesses are running with employees who have proper work authorization.

One of the biggest workplace immigration raids, in May 2008, resulted in the detention of almost 400 undocumented immigrants, including several children, at an Iowa meatpacking plant.

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