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7-Eleven: Franchise Stores Responsible For Following Immigration Laws

immigration investigation, 7-Eleven

7-Eleven is aware of federal government immigration inspections at some franchise locations on Jan. 10, but a company statement said the franchise owners are liable for those actions, and those who violate the laws will have their franchise agreements terminated.

The Associated Press (AP) and the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) reported the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents descended on nearly 100 7-Eleven stores early on Jan. 10 to open employment audits and interview workers.

In a request for comment, 7-Eleven Inc. replied, “We are aware of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions taken at certain franchise locations. 7-Eleven franchisees are independent business owners and are solely responsible for their employees including deciding who to hire and verifying their eligibility to work in the U.S.  This means that all store associates in a franchised store are employees of the franchisee and not 7-Eleven Inc. As part of the 7-Eleven franchise agreement, 7-Eleven requires all franchise business owners to comply with all federal, state and local employment laws. This obligation requires 7-Eleven franchisees to verify work eligibility in the U.S. for all of their prospective employees prior to hiring. 7-Eleven takes compliance with immigration laws seriously and has terminated the franchise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws.”

Derek Benner, an ICE official, told the AP that the Jan. 10, operation was “the first of many” and “a harbinger of what’s to come” for employers. “This is what we’re gearing up for this year and what you’re going to see more and more of is these large-scale compliance inspections, just for starters. From there, we will look at whether these cases warrant an administrative posture or criminal investigation,” said Benner. “It’s not going to be limited to large companies or any particular industry, medium and small,” he said. “It’s going to be inclusive of everything that we see out there.”

Benner noted to the AP that ICE needs to make sure that employers “are on notice that we are going to come out and ensure that they’re being compliant. …For those that don’t, we’re going to take some very aggressive steps in terms of criminal investigations to make sure that we address them and hold them accountable.”

The AP reported the 7-Eleven stores served on Jan. 10 will be required to produce documents showing they required work authorization, which Benner said will become more common. “Just as the IRS performs audits of people all the time of their tax returns, the same purpose here is to ensure a culture of compliance in this area,” he said.

immigration enforcementICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan issued a statement on the 7-Eleven operation stating, “Today’s action (Jan. 10) sends 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.” He added, “Businesses that hire 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.”

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