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Immigration and Customs Agents make a massive and nationwide raid during the early hours of Wednesday, January 10, 2017. Photo: AP.
Immigration and Customs Agents make a massive and nationwide raid during the early hours of Wednesday, January 10, 2017. Photo: AP.

ICE raids intensify in commercial establishments

Shops and motels are the new favorite target of Immigration and Customs agents to arrest undocumented citizens.

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From the first months of his term, Trump promised one thing: undocumented citizens would not continue to live in peace.

During the month of July we reported an increase in the aggressiveness of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) measures under the Trump administration, when a memorandum issued by the director of the Division of Detention and Removal Operations instructed 5,700 agents to take the necessary measures "against any removable foreigner found during the course of their duties".

And the agents have followed these instructions to the letter.

This time, and since the first days of the year, ICE has carried out aggressive raids through public establishments such as Motel 6 and Seven-Eleven.

The Washington Post reported on January 3 that the hotel chain Motel 6 would have been routinely delivering lists of personal information from guests whose names "sounded Latino" to ICE agents.

The information was made known through a lawsuit filed by a Washington attorney general against the hotel chain, which specified that "at least six establishments" would have been handing over personal information "almost daily, without reasonable suspicion, probable cause or search warrant".

Thanks to the complicity of the hotel chain, at least six guests were detained inside or around the motels in Washington State, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement.

As the Post continues, the hotel receptionists would have delivered information lists containing the driver's license number, room number, date of birth and license plate number to ICE agents.

Although ICE's practice dates back to 2015 (according to the data compiled by the lawsuit), several local media have reported the arrests that occurred during the first months of 2017, including at least 20 arrests in two Motel 6 in Arizona during the month of February.

And apparently, immigration agents don’t intend to stop this kind of practice.

In a new report published this Wednesday, the Washington Post denounced what it has described as a "national sweep" in search of immigrants, when ICE officials have appeared in dozens of 7-Eleven stores in the early hours of the morning, to question employees and deliver inspection orders.

As the agency explained, this would be "the largest operation against an employer since President Trump took office." It was a "sweep" against 98 stores that resulted in 21 arrests that the agency expects, "serves as a warning to other companies that may have unauthorized workers on their payroll."

Thomas D. Homan, senior official of the agency, said in a statement that "businesses that hire (undocumented) workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet." In addition, Homan said that, "ICE will continue its efforts to protect the jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration."

As a result of the massive raid, the franchises will have three days to hand over information about the legal status of their workers, and ICE has temporarily closed franchises in Washington, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas.

According to Derek Benner, another senior ICE official, Wednesday's operation is "the first of many," he told The Associated Press. "It’s not going to be limited to large companies or any particular industry, big, medium and small," he said. "It’s going to be inclusive of everything that we see out there."

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