Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Department of Homeland Security Raids Multiple 7-Eleven Locations for Undocumented Immigrants

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) successfully raided as many as fifteen (15) 7-Eleven stores throughout New York and Virginia on Monday morning.  The Huffington Post reported “The raids are a part of an investigation into human smuggling, identity theft and money laundering.”  The store owners were arrested on charges of hiring and harboring undocumented immigrants as well as wire fraud and possessing and using fake Social Security numbers used to pay their workers.

While Federal authorities seized fifteen (15) stores throughout the Long Island and Virginia area, The New York Times reported that “Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn were also investigating forty (40) other 7-Eleven franchises in New York City and elsewhere.”  This is one of the largest criminal immigration employment investigations conducted in Justice Department (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) history.

The nine store owners and managers were charged with hiring more than fifty (50) illegal immigrants, providing them with more than twenty (20) stolen identity information from United States citizens and stealing substantial portions of their wages.  Officials reported to the New York Times that the fraudulent activities have been going on since 2000, during that time the chain of 7-Eleven stores have generated more than $182 million in revenue in stealing wages from illegal immigrant workers and document fraud.  The New York State Police initiated the case two years ago when a 7-Eleven employee reported to the police that he wasn’t being paid for his work, while another worker later contacted the Suffolk County Police regarding the same issue.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has placed a high priority on all cases and investigations relating to hiring illegal workers and fraudulent documents, moving away from high-profile workplace raids for illegal immigrant deportation.  ICE agents are relying on audits of employers’ hiring records to detect the hiring of illegal and undocumented immigrants within company workplaces.  7-Eleven, Inc. stated that it “will take aggressive actions to audit the employment status of all its franchisees’ employees” based on the investigation and raids conducted by ICE agents.

Companies who fail to take proactive and preventative measures to ensure the employment eligibility status of their entire workforce are at the greatest risk of an ICE audit.  If your company hasn’t recently conducted an audit of all historical I-9 records or is unsure of the employment eligibility of its employees, contact Form I-9 Compliance, LLC today at 1.866.359.4949 to speak with our subject-matter experts.

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