News India Times January 19, 2018 4 Cover Story – that’s all you need to know By Ela Dutt ust as the Indian-American community was breathing a sigh of relief over resolution of the H-1B visa extensions issue, and progress on the DACA front for youth who came as children to this country, it was hit by a major challenge when Immigration authori- ties launched surprise raids on some of their small businesses, a harbinger of more to come. On Jan. 10, ICE agents went at 6 a.m. to 98 franchises of 7-Eleven around the country and arrested 21 people who were allegedly without immigration authorization. A signifi- cant proportion of franchises of this and other well-known brands are owned by people of Indian origin. Several of those detained were of Indian descent, according to Srujal Parikh, president of the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) for the tri- state area of NewYork, New Jersey and Connecticut. The National Asian Pacific AmericanWomen's Forum and South Asian Americans Leading Together, released a joint statement condemn- ing the ICE raids, adding, “It's clear from the numbers that any large scale immigration raids, detentions and deportations deeply impact the South Asian community in the U.S. With 450,000 undocumented Indians ..." Concerns The 17 states where the 7-Elevens that were raided, are located included California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, NewYork, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. According to ICE this was the largest such operation target- ing a specific employer since President Trump took office, The Washington Post reported, adding that ICE agents went into the stores "to deliver audit notifications and conduct interviews." "Most of the ICE raids were in New Jersey, and as far as my information goes, most of them are Indians, and they will be deported," Parikh told News India Times. ICE did not respond by press time to queries from News India Times about the national- ities of those arrested. The ICE raids came just as the community relaxed from a threat to revoke H-1B visa holders' right to extend their visas beyond 6 years while waiting for Green Card process- ing. According to some estimates, if revoked it would have affected 500,000 Indians most of them work- ing in tech fields. Some progress was reported in the Obama administra- tion's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals issue, when President Donald Trump in a meeting with members of Congress signaled support for letting them stay if a border wall could be negotiated. Asian Pacific organiza- tions (National Asian Pacific AmericanWomen's Forum and South Asian Americans Leading Together,) estimate there are 23,000 Indians and Pakistani DREAMers as they are pop- ularly called, in the U.S. The ICE warning that the action was just the first example of what will happen in the future, has shaken the Indian-American small business community to its core. And they have reason to be worried. The corporate headquarters of 7-Eleven informed J PWM Continued On Page 5 The Indian-American small business community is rattled as immigration authorities target a slew of 7-Eleven franchises around the country ICE Raids 7-Eleven targeted in immigration raids. Srujal Parikh By Ela Dutt U nder federal law, employers are required to verify the identity and employment eligibility of all individuals they hire, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a Jan. 10 notifica- tion. "Ensuring each of its employees is legally authorized to work in the United States is one of many responsibilities facing every American busi- ness, from small start-up operations to our country’s largest and most prosperous corporations." It requires filling up the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9, available on the site. But one Indian-American community leader said "Lot of times our small business community does not do background checks. They take the Social Security Card, and hire them." Some of them say that it costs too much or takes time to get the verification done. But immigration attorney and former UCIS official Prakash Khatri put paid to that argument. "The employment verification process that USCIS has is a free service. So employers need have no worry and just go through the process," he said. ICE said on its website that the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) division of ICE, has developed a "comprehensive" worksite enforcement strategy that includes ensuring compliance with the laws through inspections of I-9 forms that employers must main- tain to show they have verified that the employee is legally allowed to work enforcement, through the arrest of employers, knowingly employing undocu- mented workers, and the arrest of unauthorized workers for violation of laws associated with working without authorization, and instilling a culture of compliance and accountability. UCIS said, “Officials generally choose where they will conduct a Form I-9 inspection. For example, offi- cials may ask that an employer bring Form I-9 to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office. Sometimes, employers may arrange for an inspection at the location where the forms are stored.” To ensure their legal standing, ICE advises employ- ers to complete a self-assessment questionnaire, enroll in the DHS E-Verify program, establish a writ- ten hiring and employment eligibility verification policy and submit to a company-wide form I-9 inspection. An ICE spokesperson told TheWashington Post more resources were being allocated to make sure businesses comply with federal employment regula- tions. And the 7-Eleven raids are, "a demonstration of our commitment to enforcing the law." AWashington Post-ABC survey showed an overwhelming majority of Americans want employers to verify the immigra- tion status of hires; and a large majority of Democrats (65 percent) and overwhelming proportion of Republicans (93 percent) back these measures. ICE told the Post it had conducted 1,360 employee audits last year and made 300 arrests on criminal and administrative violations. Businesses had to pay nearly $100 million ($97.6 m) in forfeitures deter- mined by the courts, and another $7.8 million in civil fines. The Employment Verification Process