Seven Maryland stores part of 7-Eleven immigration raid

Immigration officials raided 7-Eleven convenience stores in seven Maryland communities as part of a nationwide blitz Wednesday that they described as the largest such effort against an employer under the Trump administration.

A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed that stores in Baltimore, Glen Burnie, Severna Park, Pasadena, Landover, Upper Marlboro and Frederick were part of the raid, which also took place in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.


Immigration officials described it as the first of many such actions intended to focus attention on employers who hire immigrants in the country illegally. The raid comes as immigration has moved to the fore in Washington, and President Donald Trump has said he could support allowing so-called Dreamers to stay in the country if Democrats sign on to additional border security funding.

In all, 21 people were arrested, officials said.

ICE spokesman Matthew Bourke declined to say whether any of those arrested were from Maryland. The agency also declined to identify which stores, specifically, were targeted or how many stores were affected in each city.

The “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,” Thomas D. Homan, an ICE deputy director, said in a statement. “Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet.”

Officials said 100 7-Eleven stores nationwide were targeted Wednesday.

Fernanda Durand, a spokeswoman for the immigrant rights group CASA, said that the operation appeared to be focused on ensuring that employers have hired employees with proper documentation. Such worksite immigration enforcement is problematic, she said, because it scares employees from engaging with government agencies that oversee workplace health and safety.

Durand noted the small number of arrests nationwide and said the raids appeared to be a “PR effort” designed mostly to scare immigrant communities.

The convenience stores are franchised businesses. In a statement, 7-Eleven said that individual business owners “are solely responsible for their employees including deciding who to hire and verifying their eligibility to work in the United States.”

As part of the immigration debate taking place on Capitol Hill, a group of House Republicans unveiled a proposal late Wednesday that, among other things, would require employers to use the E-Verify system to check new hires against a federal immigration database. Lawmakers are negotiating what to do with the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that allows those brought to the United States illegally as children to remain in the country.