NewsIndiaTimes – that’s all you need to know Cover Story 5 News India Times January 19, 2018 this correspondent it terminates relation- ships with any franchises convicted of breaking federal employment laws. "The 7-Eleven raids have really scared the small business community of Indian- Americans," FIA's Parikh said. "It seems like profiling to us. Some 90 percent of 7- Elevens, especially in New Jersey, are owned by Indians," ICE did not respond to New India Times request for its reaction to the profiling accusation. Parikh said public officials and elected leaders should take up the issue. "We need representatives in government. This is a wake-up call for the Indian community," said Parikh, adding that the FIA was going to discuss the matter with all its 35-40 member organizations. "It is a national issue. 7-Elevens and Dunkin Donuts are easy targets for Indian-Americans," he said. Calls by News India Times to contact Indian-origin owners of several franchises in New Jersey and Maryland, were not returned. “Like many, I’m disturbed by these raids and hope they are not the beginning of a policy of targeting immigrant-owned small businesses,” Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D- Illinois, told News India Times, New Jersey State Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, told News India Times while he did not know all the facts about the raids, "this situation highlights the need for com- prehensive immigration reform and a pathway to lawful residency or citizenship for undocumented immigrants." According to him, these otherwise law abiding mem- bers of the community who paid taxes and raised families were at risk of deportation. Warning “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,” Thomas D. Homan, the acting head of ICE, said in a statement. “Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immi- gration and we are working hard to remove this magnet. ICE will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by elim- inating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigra- tion," Homan added. Indian and Indian-American owned small businesses are a mainstay of this community. Small businesses are probably the most important segment of the econo- my and the raids are likely to ripple through it, regardless of the ethnicities run- ning them. U.S. Census data from 2014, shows that out of the 5.83 million employer firms in the country, those with fewer than 500 workers account for 99.7 percent, and those employing less than 20 workers, make up 89.4 percent. Commenting on the overall impact of the ICE action, columnist and attorney Andy Semotiuk, wrote in Forbes magazine Jan. 11, "The 7-Eleven raids sent an electric shock through the U.S. economy all the way up to the Canadian border." Small businesses get a bad rap despite their contributions and there is an underly- ing view based on anecdotal evidence, that small businesses in all communities pay below minimum wage to undocumented labor, or even those on students visas not allowed to work. The small business community is wor- ried that other franchises where Indian and Indian-American ownership is dominant, such as Dunkin Donuts, motels, conven- ience stores, etc., may also be targeted. 7-Eleven Response Meanwhile, Irving, Texas-based 7- Eleven Inc., responding to a query from News India Times laid out its mandate for franchisees. “We are aware of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) actions taken at certain franchise locations. 7-Eleven Franchisees are independent business owners and are solely responsible for their employees including deciding who to hire and verifying their eligibility to work in the United States. This means that all store associates in a franchised store are employ- ees of the Franchisee and not 7-Eleven, Inc.," the company said. However, "As part of the 7-Eleven franchise agreement, 7- Eleven requires all franchise business own- ers to comply with all federal, state and local employment laws. This obligation requires 7-Eleven franchisees to verify work eligibility in the US for all of their prospective employees prior to hiring. 7- Eleven takes compliance with immigration laws seriously and has terminated the fran- chise agreements of franchisees convicted of violating these laws,” the company said. An immigration attorney and former federal official, Prakash Khatri, defended the ICE actions asserting that the raids would benefit those waiting for legal immi- gration. He said the bottom line of employing illegal aliens was that it deprived legitimate visa applicants of their chance to live in this country. "I think we have lost the sense of rule of law,” he said. “Employers (who hire illegal workers) need to be punished. While many Indians are waiting to go through the immigration process, others (who are ille- gal) are getting jobs," said Khatri, the first ever Ombudsman of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) who served from 2003 to 2008. "Indians and Indian-Americans should instead be saying, 'Do more of these raids so that those who are waiting for legitimate ways to be here are not hurt,'" Khatri said. On possible profiling, Khatri said one would have to see how future raids take place and where, before making such claims. While 7-Elevens do employ many Indians and South Asians, Khatri said, "What we need to be cognizant of is not painting these raids as bad, but ensure they don't target a particular group." Continued From Page 4 ICE Raids Reuters :Video Capture Prakash Khatri Raja Krishnamoorthi Raj Mukherji NJ Legislature LinkedIn