By Natasha Bach
January 10, 2018

U.S. immigration agents began a widespread sweep of nearly 100 7-Eleven stores on Wednesday, interviewing employees and delivering notifications of employee audits.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is calling it the largest operation against an employer under President Donald Trump, who made illegal immigration a centerpiece of his election campaign. The audits could lead to “criminal charges or fines over the stores’ hiring practices,” reports the Associated Press.

ICE targeted dozens of stores across the country and reportedly made 21 arrests of people suspected of being in the country illegally. The sweep led to the temporary closure of franchises in 17 states and Washington, D.C. However, the ultimate goal is aimed at management, according to Thomas Homan, ICE’s acting director, who warned that today’s arrests are a harbinger of what’s to come.

Read: Trump’s Plan to End DACA Program for Dreamers Has Been Blocked by a Federal Judge

“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. “ICE will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration.”

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