The Department of Homeland Security and especially Immigration and Customs Enforcement have ramped up their activities in the first year of the Trump administration. Whether it’s considering breaking up families that cross the border illegally, deporting refugees, or targeting sanctuary cities, it’s clear that ICE has new marching orders. Continuing that trend, ICE agents swooped into 98 7-Eleven stores across the country during Wednesday predawn raids, in which they interviewed employees and made arrests.
In a statement, ICE announced 21 arrests had been made and the raids were a warning to other companies where unauthorized workers are present (7-Elevens are franchises, so it’s likely the arrests were made at locations with no connection to one another). Thomas D. Homan, the agency’s top official, referred to businesses that hire undocumented workers as a “magnet” for illegal immigration:
“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 will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration.”
Homan also added that this crackdown was a new technique ICE would use to keep up the Trump administration’s pressure against undocumented immigrants. The raids arrive after arrests by ICE went up by over 40 percent in 2017.
The stores, which were only temporarily closed, are located in Washington, D.C. and 17 states: California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington.