Immigration officials targeted approximately 100 7-Eleven stores early Wednesday morning, opening up employment audits and interviewing employees in what Derek Benner, the deputy executive associate director of Homeland Security Investigations, told The Associated Press is a "harbinger of what's to come."
Wednesday's operation represents a new step in an investigation that was first opened in 2013, when a handful of 7-Eleven managers were found to have used stolen identities to employ more than 100 people illegally and pay them below minimum wage. The 7-Elevens targeted Wednesday will be required to prove that work authorizations were required during their hiring processes.
AP called the early morning operation a "new front in [President] Trump's sharp expansion of immigration enforcement." Benner confirmed as much, saying: "You're going to see more and more of is these large-scale compliance inspections, just for starters."
An official who spoke to The Daily Beast in November said that the operations will specifically target employers who might be exploiting undocumented workers. "These people are basically being used as slave labor," the official said. Tom Homan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has said both the employers and the employees will be targeted: "We'll go after the employer who knowingly hires an illegal alien ... but we're always going to arrest a person who is here illegally," he said.