Desi Talk – that’s all you need to know 14 January 19, 2018 SPECIAL REPORT By Ela Dutt ust as the Indian-American commu- nity 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 authorities 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 authoriza- tion. A significant 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 American Women's Forum and South Asian Americans Leading Together, released a joint statement condemning the ICE raids, adding, “It's clear from the numbers that any large scale immigration raids, deten- tions 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 andWashington. According to ICE this was the largest such operation target- ing a specific employer since President Trump took office, TheWashington 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 nationalities of those arrested. The ICE raids came just as the commu- nity relaxed from a threat to revoke H-1B visa holders' right to extend their visas beyond 6 years while waiting for Green Card processing. According to some esti- mates, if revoked it would have affected 500,000 Indians most of them working in tech fields. Some progress was reported in the Obama administration'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 J PWM Continued On Page 15 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 indi- viduals they hire, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said in a Jan. 10 notification. "Ensuring each of its employees is legally authorized to work in the United States is one of many respon- sibilities facing every American business, 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 busi- ness 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 "com- prehensive" worksite enforcement strate- gy that includes ensuring compliance with the laws through inspections of I-9 forms that employers must maintain to show they have verified that the employ- ee is legally allowed to work enforcement, through the arrest of employers, know- ingly employing undocumented 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, officials 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 employers to complete a self- assessment questionnaire, enroll in the DHS E-Verify program, establish a written hiring and employment eligibility verifi- cation policy and submit to a company- wide form I-9 inspection. An ICE spokesperson told The Washington 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 immigration status of hires; and a large majority of Democrats (65 per- cent) 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 administra- tive violations. Businesses had to pay nearly $100 million ($97.6 m) in forfei- tures determined by the courts, and another $7.8 million in civil fines. The Employment Verification Process