The Hellertown 7-Eleven was apparently one of nearly 100 stores across the country visited by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents early Wednesday.
The visit drew the attention of a number of passers-by, and customers were not allowed to enter the store while the action was in progress.
According to the Associated Press, the agents “descended on dozens of 7-Eleven stores before dawn Wednesday to open employment audits and interview workers in what officials described as the largest operation against an employer under Donald Trump’s presidency.”
“Agents targeted about 100 stores nationwide, broadening an investigation that began with a 4-year-old case against a franchisee on New York’s Long Island,” the AP story said. “The audits could lead to criminal charges or fines over the stores’ hiring practices.”
“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,” said Thomas D. Homan, ICE Deputy Director and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director. “Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet. ICE will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration.”
Eyewitnesses reported that Hellertown police officers were present at the 7-Eleven store at 1100 Main Street early Wednesday.
One employee was observed to be in handcuffs, an eyewitness said.
When asked about what had happened, Hellertown Police Chief Robert Shupp said, “it was something with paperwork between the 7-11 and the government.”
“It had nothing to do with us,” he said. “It’s my understanding that once it was sorted out they let them open again.”
The store was reportedly open again by around 9 a.m.
According to the AP story, in addition to Pennsylvania ICE agents visited 7-Eleven stores in Washington, D.C., California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Washington.