Baltimore-area 7-Eleven stores targeted in ICE raid
BALTIMORE (WBFF) - 7-Eleven stores throughout Maryland were part of a nationwide sweep by U.S. immigration agents investigating illegal employment.
Immigration agents targeted 98 7-Eleven stores before dawn Wednesday, according to a news release. Twenty-one people "suspected of being in the U.S. illegally were administratively arrested and given notices to appear in immigration court," according to the release.
The stores included ones in Landover, Pasadena, Upper Marlboro, Glen Burnie, Baltimore, Severna Park and Frederick, as well as Washington, D.C.
ICE declined to provide specific addresses for the stores, said spokesperson Matthew Bourke. He added the investigation is ongoing.
"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," said Thomas D. Homan, ICE Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director, in a statement.
"Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet. ICE will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration," Homan continued in the statement.
Officials described the operation as the largest such initiative against an employer under Donald Trump's presidency, according to Associated Press.
The national investigation broadens an existing 4-year-old case against a 7-Eleven store in Long Island, New York, according to Associated Press.
"In 2013, HSI conducted an investigation into various 7-Eleven franchises that resulted in the arrest of nine franchise owners and managers for conspiring to commit wire fraud, stealing identities and concealing and harboring illegal aliens employed at their stores," said ICE in a statement about that original case. "All but one, who remained a fugitive until his arrest in November 2017, pleaded guilty and were ordered to pay more than $2.6 million in restitution for back wages stolen from workers."
"Today's service of NOIs [notices of inspection] throughout the United States serves as a follow-up to ensure the company has taken the proper steps towards more responsible hiring and employment practices," continued ICE in the statement.