Immigration agents sweep 7-Eleven stores, arrest 21 workers


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

An ICE agent prepares his gear before an action.

Zhe(Mia) Wang

Federal immigration agents striking 98 7-Eleven stores announced nationwide, from California to Florida, resulted in the arrest of 21 undocumented workers predawn on Wednesday.

“Today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce,” Thomas D. Homan, Deputy Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said in a statement.

“It’s legal for ICE to do this kind of thing,” said Jonathan Hassid, assistant professor of political science.

Hassid expanded on how much power immigration enforcement has.   

“In the U.S., Customs and Border Patrol has way more power than people realize,” Hassid said. “For example, even American citizens at the border, Customs and Border Patrol can seize your electronic devices and take them for a couple of weeks before giving them back.

“They can also do any kind of immigration enforcement within 100 miles of the U.S. border.”

A statement put out by ICE said the organization is targeting businesses, Hassid discussed difficulties related to this policy.

“To get people punished for violating immigration law you have to prove that they knew people they were hiring were undocumented, and people often provide fake documents,” Hassid said.

Hassid said there are several ways undocumented immigrants get hired without valid government issued documents.

“They get hired sometimes because they provide fake documents,” Hassid said. “Sometimes the employer hires illegal immigrants deliberately, because they are cheaper, and employers treat them badly.”

ICE is temporarily shutting down 7-Eleven stores in the District of Columbia and in 17 states including California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.

“The Trump administration has made it very clear that they don’t like immigrants of all kinds,” Hassid said. “So I think they are trying to send out a massage.”

The employment audits and interviews with store workers may lead to criminal charges or fines. This operation is the largest operation against an employer under the Trump administration.

Madeline Cano, community organizer of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement offered her opinion.

“They are bluntly targeting and stereotyping a particular business,” Cano said. “It looks more like racial profiling than it does for a normal operation.“