United States Immigration agents raided dozens of 7-Eleven stores earlier this week, which led to the arrest of 21 people.
Over 90 convenience stores were raided nationwide — from Los Angeles to New York — targeted by agents from immigration and customs enforcement. This came as a warning to other companies that may have unauthorized employees on their payrolls. But what does this mean for folks here in the valley.
KMIR spoke to Karan Klar, the Executive Director of the Coachella Valley Immigration Services about the legality of the process.
"I do not believe that it was lawful. Could it be legal, there is a little difference. Now legally they could have gone to a judge and said we have probable cause to believe the employer is exploiting employees"
Which would then lead to getting a search warrant.
"But that’s not what they did. They actually went in to check employees and what their status is and if they are authorized to work or have legal documents, and that is against what the search warrant is."
And while Karan says this must have been startling for employees, he says it should be taken as a learning experience.
"The employers should use this current raid of 7-elevens to do something called in house cleaning, or i-9 audits to see if they have all of their documents in place."
Something that Nachhattar Chandi, and entrepreneur and the owner of Chandi Group USA makes sure is always done.
"We all go through a verified system. So I believe my HR team does the right hiring system to do this."
So that covers employers, but what about employees?
"Employees on the other hand need to know that there is a civil rights division."
This is a division that protects employees from workplace discrimination, but that’s not the only protection employees have.
"Under the constitution, you have the right to remain silent. So my first advice to an employee, should somebody walk in, is to say I’m an employee here, I refuse to answer any questions beyond I am an employee here."
In fact, it’s because these raids are legal that Kler believes the community should take matters into their own hands.
"I think we need to have a simple poster that is circulated at every place of employment that says, the employee works here and is protected by the employer."
Bottom line, if you are approached by an ICE agent, you can tell them to speak to your employer as it is the employer’s job to provide the government with any necessary paperwork.