Earlier this morning, federal agents seized 14 7-Eleven stores on Long Island and arrested their owners and managers for allegedly hiring and harboring illegal immigrants. It was reportedly a "nationwide sweep involving hundreds of agents."
The indictment will be unsealed later today, but the NY Times reports that nine people are being charged and that the charges will include "wire fraud and aggravated identity theft stemming from payment of employees who were unauthorized immigrants using the Social Security numbers of children and the dead." Also, the Social Security number of a former employee was apparently used—and the former employee was being hounded by the IRS during the period the illegal immigrant was using the SS number!
According to NBC New York, "some owners of the raided franchises allegedly helped traffic in workers from Pakistan to work in their stores. Those workers were then allegedly forced to live in housing provided by the franchise owners, authorities said." And Newsday reports, "A typical undocumented worker was forced to work up to 100 hours a week, but only paid for about half of that, with the owners and managers pocketing the rest, the sources said." Most of the undocumented workers were from Southeast Asia.
A source told Newsday that "[while] undocumented workers may be picked up for questioning, no criminal arrests are planned against them, except possibly for being in the country illegally." In fact, prosecutors are mostly looking for payment from the stores and from 7-Eleven corporate (the franchisees and corporate, which handles payroll, split profits) to the tune of $30 million.
Further, dozens of other 7-Elevens are being investigated—including many in NYC.