U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided dozens of 7-Eleven convenience stores early Wednesday, providing audit notifications and asking employees about their immigration status. ICE officials said the operation was the largest immigration enforcement effort of its kind since President Donald Trump took office nearly a year ago.

The raids were one of the clearest indications yet of how serious the Trump administration is about stepping up worksite enforcement checks. In October, ICE Acting Director Thomas Homan stated that ICE would dramatically increase the number of worksite visits. ICE officials described Wednesday’s operations targeting 7-Eleven as a “harbinger” of what employers should expect and said that enforcement would not be limited to large employers or specific industries.

“Today’s actions send 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,” Homan said in a statement posted to the ICE Twitter feed.

BAL Analysis: Employers should be aware of the steps ICE is taking to ramp up inspections. Employers are encouraged to conduct an internal audit to ensure that they are in compliance with Form I-9 requirements. BAL can assist in conducting a review and compliance audit of employers’ Form I-9 employment eligibility verification policies.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact berryapplemanleiden@bal.com.

Copyright © 2018 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact copyright@bal.com.