Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided nearly 100 7-Eleven stores across the country Wednesday, including California and the District of Columbia, in a push to punish employers who hire people in the country illegally.
“Today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce,” said acting ICE Director Thomas D. Homan, in a statement, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. “ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable.”
A total of 21 people were arrested.
One local resident of Los Angeles’ Koreatown, Imelda Vargas, told the Times she was upset to hear ICE agents had come to her neighborhood.
“They’re intimidating people — the owner, the workers and now the clients,” Lopez said. “Everyone has the right to be here, to work.”
Because California law prohibits federal immigration agents from going on private business property without a warrant, state officials raised concerns about the 7-Eleven raids.
“We’d been expecting raids like this when Trump declared war on our immigrant communities,” said California state Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco), in the Times report. “We’ll be asking our state attorney general and the labor commissioner to look into whether our law was properly followed.”
Corporate officials at 7-Eleven said in a statement that individual franchise owners, not the company, were responsible for assuring employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S.
“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,” the company said. “This obligation requires 7-Eleven franchisees to verify work eligibility in the U.S for all of their prospective employees prior to hiring. 7-Eleven takes compliance with immigration laws seriously and has terminated the franchise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws.”