Immigration agents raid 7-Eleven stores in NC

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"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. He said there would be more employment audits and investigations, though there is no numerical goal. Part of the problem, Wood said, is the lack of "a consistent signal" between administrations that the US government will prosecute employers who hire immigrants without legal status.

GONZALES: For its part, Irving, Texas-based 7-Eleven said in an emailed statement that its franchisees are independent business owners and exclusively responsible for who they hire and verifying who is eligible to work.

Derek Benner, a top official at the agency, said Wednesday's operation was "the first of many" and "a harbinger of what's to come" for employers. "From there, we will look at whether these cases warrant an administrative posture or criminal investigation".

"It's not going to be limited to large companies or any particular industry, big medium and small", he said. "It's going to be inclusive of everything that we see out there", he said.

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According to ICE, federal agents served inspection notices to 7-Eleven franchises in California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington State and Washington, D.C.

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 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. Characterized as a "show of force" to highlight the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy with regard to undocumented individuals, this operation is the largest to date under the current administration. And under him, ICE has reportedly made almost 40 percent more arrests. ICE called its Wednesday sweep a "follow-up" of a 2013 investigation that resulted in the arrests of nine 7-Eleven franchise owners and managers on Long Island and in Virginia on charges of employing undocumented workers. Eight have pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay more than $2.6 million in back wages, and the ninth was arrested in November.

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