Four Detroit-area 7-Eleven stores have been "put on notice" as part of a nationwide crackdown on illegal immigration. The immigration officers made it clear that the raids are a warning to other companies that have employed unauthorized people. 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.
In its own announcement, 7-Eleven said it knew about the ICE strikes and focused on that each establishment is controlled by "free entrepreneurs" who are "exclusively in charge of their representatives, including choosing who to employ and confirming their qualification to work in the United States".
ICE said in a statement that the enforcement effort would "send a strong message" to employers to only hire documented workers.
In all, 21 workers across the country were arrested on suspicion of being in the country illegally.
"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 executive associate director for ICE's Homeland Security Investigations, told the AP.
These audits appear to open a new front in Trump's expansion of immigration enforcement, which has already brought a 40 percent increase in deportation arrests and pledges to spend billions of dollars on a border wall with Mexico.More news: Giant Eagle recalls ice cream bars
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The assaults on Wednesday became out of a 2013 ICE examination that brought about charges against nine 7-Eleven franchisees and administrators in NY and Virginia who supposedly utilized more than 25 stolen characters to utilize more than 100 individuals who were in the nation unlawfully. Officials discovered evidence that the franchise owners had used at least 25 stolen identities to help hide at least 115 low-wage illegal immigrants.
Neither 7-Eleven nor was its parent company, Seven & I Holding Co. based in Tokyo, was charged in that case. All but one, who was a fugitive until November 2017, pleaded guilty, and they were forced to pay more than $2.6 million in back wages.
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.
The investigations in California concerned state Assemblyman David Chiu, a Democrat, who wrote a law that prohibits employers from allowing federal immigration agents on private business property without a judicial warrant.
The administration has drastically stepped up immigration enforcement in the United States. In Koreatown, agents gathered in a grocery store parking lot and drove through side streets in unmarked cars to their target location. A clerk told CBS13 agents had a very specific request. Changes in immigration programs between administrations, like the Obama-era program shielding young immigrants and other programs offering temporary protected status, add to the difficulty of keeping track of workers' statuses, said Wood, who is now CEO of the consulting firm Guidepost Solutions.