7-11’s in 17 states and D.C. were visited by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) department this week in a well-executed wide-brush sweep for illegal workers. The department visited a total of 100 stores, requesting identification information and proof of residency from workers who were suspected to be in the country without permission. The audits were initiated as a result of an investigation that originally began in 2013 under the Obama administration. Investigations into illegal workers are not new; both Bush and Obama initiated similar campaigns during their reign. It wasn’t immediately clear just how many illegal immigrants were rounded up during Wednesday’s actions.
• ICE’s Deputy Director, Thomas D. Homan, released a statement asserting the department’s position shortly after the event culminated. “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.”
• Under the Trump administration, arrests relating to illegal immigration have gone up approximately 40 percent – the most out of any president in the last two decades. Trump continues to make good on campaign promises to tighten borders and lock up illegal immigrants (or at least remove them from the country).
• Immigration attorneys believe the attempts may be futile because of the sheer volume of illegal residents. Amy Peck, a lawyer from Omaha, agrees. “When these audits occur, the employees scatter in the wind and go down the street and work for somebody else. You’re playing whack-a-mole.”
• Former ICE leader, Julie Myers Wood, stated that Wednesday’s investigations were an attempt to crack down on a “repeat offender” employer. She believes that part of the problem with immigration isn’t caused by the immigrants, but by employers who do not feel fines and/or charges are a serious risk. This is likely to change under Trump, as ICE refocuses on following through with charges.
Why is there a “repeat offender” issue when it comes to any business and immigration? What can the US do to make such a thing less appealing to businesses?