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ICE warns: More workplace raids are coming

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in Hiring,Human Resources

The Department of Homeland Security made headlines Jan. 10 when Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents launched coordinated raids on 7-11 franchise convenience stores across the country. The raids targeted almost 100 stores, seeking evidence that they knowingly employ undocumented workers.

It was the largest worksite immigration enforcement action since President Trump took office.

An ICE statement said the raids sought to disrupt what it considers the most significant magnet for illegal immigration—employers that hire regardless of a worker’s legal status.

The raids shut down stores for several hours as agents interviewed 7-11 staff and arrested 21. The franchises, located in 17 states and Washington, D.C., were given three days to produce documents showing the legal status of their employees.

Derek Benner, acting head of ICE Homeland Security Investigations, told the Associated Press the raids were “a harbinger of what’s to come.” He said the enforcement blitz would target businesses of all sizes to ensure they are complying with documentation requirements.

Employers must complete I-9 forms for all new hires, reviewing documents that verify the employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S. However, the forms and copies of the documents aren’t submitted to DHS, but kept by the employer.

ICE said its raids were designed to see if employers had filled out the forms and whether the presented documents looked genuine.

On Jan. 14, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told “Fox News Sunday” that the 7-11 raids were intended to send a clear signal to employers: “If you consistently and willfully ignore the laws Congress and the American people have passed, ... you will be held accountable. These are not accidental hirings of illegal immigrants.”

Advice: Consider these raids fair warning. Work with your attorney to review your hiring processes and employment eligibility verification procedures. Noncompliance could result in criminal charges, not just civil penalties.

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