ICE Announces Enforcement Priorities, Raids Nearly 100 7-Eleven Stores

"Today's actions send a strong message to US businesses that hire and employ an illegal workforce", ICE's Acting Director Thomas D. Homan said in a statement.

"As long as people think they can get here and get a job, they're going to keep coming", she said.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials said the raids were a warning to other companies that have employed undocumented immigrants.

GONZALES: Critics say workplace enforcement actions during the George W. Bush administration were not effective.

Any employers who knowingly employ undocumented workers will be arrested, along with the unauthorized worker, according to ICE. "If, during the course of this enforcement, we encounter an individual who is in unlawfully in the United States, then we would administratively arrest them and serve them with a notice to appear in immigration court", said Bourke. "It's not necessary to show up with agents and interview people on site unannounced", Angela Banks, an immigration expert and professor of law at Arizona State, told HuffPost.

Washington's Department of Licensing has been giving residents' personal information to federal immigration-enforcement officers, who used that information to arrest and deport people under the president's immigration policies, reports The Seattle Times. From late January through August 2017, arrests by ICE were up more than 43 percent over the same period in 2016. "Showing up at early hours across the country is showing enforcement muscle".

ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke told India-West that the January 10 raids were a "routine investigative component conducted by ICE Homeland Security Investigations".

Wednesday's operation arose from a 2013 investigation that resulted in charges against nine 7-Eleven franchisees and managers in NY and Virginia. Several have pleaded guilty and forfeited their franchises, and have been ordered to pay millions of dollars in back wages owed to the workers.

About a dozen investigations took place on Wednesday and the Trump presidency aims to continue targeting more stores across the country. "7-Eleven takes compliance with immigration laws seriously and has terminated the franchise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws".

ICE agents targeted a total of 98 7-Eleven convenience stores in the raids.

The raids on Wednesday grew out of a 2013 ICE investigation that resulted in charges against nine 7-Eleven franchisees and managers in NY and Virginia who allegedly used more than 25 stolen identities to employ over 100 people who were in the country illegally.

"What it does when you have these raids ― where agents can go to any place in the country, with no regard to criminal offense ― no one will feel safe", Chishti said. "That reality has changed under the Trump administration ― and they say it themselves, that".

Vanessa Coleman