Federal immigration agents bombarded 7-Eleven convenience stores across the country on January 10, arresting alleged undocumented employees and demanding employment verification paperwork from managers. The Trump administration described this operation as its largest worksite enforcement operation against employers to date. These types of worksite enforcement actions likely will continue for the foreseeable future, so employers should start the New Year by making sure their employment eligibility verification policies and documents are in order.
Yesterday’s enforcement sweeps targeted 98 stores in 17 states from California to Florida. The workers who were arrested likely will be placed in removal proceedings. It is unclear whether store managers and employers will be prosecuted, but criminal prosecution and civil monetary penalties are “fair game” under the currently applicable statutes. In short, the Trump administration’s message is clear as Thomas D. Homan, top official of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, stated:
“Today’s actions send a strong message to U.S. businesses that hire and employ an illegal work force. ICE will enforce the law, and if you are found to be breaking the law, you will be held accountable.”
Employers should take action to ensure compliance and to prepare in the chance that their business is raided by the federal government.
Here are some useful tips:
- Consult with counsel and complete an internal audit of all I-9 Forms.
- Review employment eligibility verification policies and update those policies statements as appropriate.
- Identify a worksite enforcement response team that can respond to a government raid and/or government inquiry concerning employment eligibility verification.
Critically, employers and their employees must know their rights so they may properly respond if a worksite enforcement raid occurs.
Employers should keep the following considerations in mind:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- You have the right to ask whether you are free to leave.
- You have the right to speak to a lawyer.
- You have the right to remain on property you own, unless you are arrested and detained.
- You have the right to legally challenge any search warrant presented concerning the worksite enforcement action.