U.S. immigration agents raided more than 100 7-Eleven convenience stores around the country Wednesday, sending a warning to businesses not to hire illegal immigrants, officials said.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 21 undocumented immigrants in the raids of 7-Eleven franchises in 17 states and the capital, they said, amid a broad crackdown by the year-old administration of President Donald Trump.
“Today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce: ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable,” ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan said.
“Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet,” he said in a statement.
“ICE will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration.”
Ninety-eight stores were targeted in Wednesday’s raids.
Texas-based 7-Eleven Inc. said it was not responsible for the hiring practices of its franchise owners.
“7-Eleven Franchisees are independent business owners and are solely responsible for their employees, including deciding who to hire and verifying their eligibility to work in the United States,” the company said.
“7-Eleven takes compliance with immigration laws seriously and has terminated the franchise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws.”
ICE and its sister agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, have stepped up arrests and deportations of illegal border crossers since President Trump’s took the reins in January 2017.