As the United States looks to tighten its border security and immigration regulations, federal immigration officials raided scores of 7-Eleven convenience stores on Wednesday, January 11, and arrested about 21 people who are said to be workers without valid documentation.
The officials were seen at about 98 stores across 17 states and they explained that this would put pressure on employers to check their workers' documents and employ only those who are legal immigrants.
"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," the Lost Angeles Times quoted acting ICE Director Thomas D. Homan as saying.
Homan also revealed that there would be more such crackdowns and serious action will be taken against those violating the law.
However, 7-Eleven Inc has clarified that they do not hire workers from the headquarters and employing workers is something that is up to the individual franchise. The independent owners "are solely responsible for their employees, including deciding who to hire and verifying their eligibility to work in the United States," the New York Times quoted 7-Eleven Inc as saying.
"7-Eleven takes compliance with immigration laws seriously and has terminated the franchise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws."
While the immigration department has clarified that this was a measure taken to identify and punish illegal immigrants, several immigrants have slammed the move and said that the department was intimidating them and being high-handed.
"They're intimidating people — the owner, the workers and now the clients," Elena Lopez, a local resident, told LA Times, while another resident added: "Everyone has the right to be here, to work."