While it’s not particularly shocking that there are undocumented workers currently employed in this country, one of the biggest problems is that oftentimes employers aren’t treating those immigrants fairly. One such case unearthed by the federal government claims that nine owners and managers of 7-Eleven stores in Long Island, N.Y. and Virginia were involved in a scheme that not only used stolen Social Security numbers to employ such workers, but also stole a large part of the wages they’d (illegally) earned.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents executed search warrants at about 14 stores total in a raid that resulted in multiple arrests, and are planning similar actions at 30 other stores around the country.
Authorities claim that the employers exploited workers from Pakistan and the Philippines, by paying them with stolen identities including three dead people and a child, reports the Associated Press.
The indictments claim that since 2000, the stores have employed over 50 immigrants who didn’t have permission to be in this country. They allegedly used stolen Social Security numbers from about two dozen people and submitted that info to the 7-Eleven payroll department.
Once headquarters paid up and sent the money off to the stores for distribution, authorities claim that the employers then added insult to injury by stealing “significant portions” of the workers’ pay. The defendants also stand accused of forcing the works to live in houses owned by the franchisees and pay them rent in cash.
“The defendants not only systematically employed illegal immigrants, but concealed their crimes by raiding the cradle and the grave to steal the identities of children and even the dead,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement. “Finally, these defendants ruthlessly exploited their immigrant employees, stealing their wages and requiring them to live in unregulated boarding houses, in effect creating a modern day plantation system.”
Those stores will remain open under the parent company’s watch, despite the fact that the government seized the franchise rights of the 10 stores.
Feds: NY, Va. 7-Eleven stores exploited immigrants [Associated Press]