7-Eleven stores in California, nationwide targeted in immigration sweep

Posted at 12:40 PM, Jan 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-10 15:41:06-05

LOS ANGELES -- In what officials described as the largest operation against an employer under President Donald Trump, immigration officials descended on dozens of 7-Eleven stores before dawn Wednesday to check on employees’ immigration status.

A total of 100 stores nationwide were targeted. The audits could lead to criminal charges or fines.

21 people suspected of being in the United States illegally were arrested, per the Associated Press.

10News is looking into whether or not any San Diego 7-Eleven stores were targeted in the operation. 

RELATED: Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tours border wall prototypes in San Diego

The operation was “the first of many” and “a harbinger of what’s to come” for employers said Derek Benner, a top official at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“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,” said Benner.

“It’s not going to be limited to large companies or any particular industry, big medium and small,” Benner added.

In a statement, 7-Eleven Stores Inc. said franchise owners are responsible for verifying work eligibility.

RELATED: Trump lays out immigration deal demands

The chain claims to have ended franchising agreements with owners convicted of breaking employment laws.

“We need to make sure that employers are on notice that we are going to come out and ensure that they’re being compliant,” Benner said.

During his Presidency, Barack Obama more than doubled employer audits to more than 3,100 per-year in 2013.

VIDEO: San Diego security guard questions woman's immigration status in Target parking lot

Wednesday’s pre-dawn operation arose from an investigation in 2013 that ended in charges against nine 7-Eleven franchisees and managers.