Desi Talk – that’s all you need to know 4 January 19, 2018 COVER STORY 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 J PWM Continued On Page 6 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 responsi- bilities 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 attor- ney 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 "compre- hensive" worksite enforcement strategy that includes ensuring compliance with the laws through inspections of I-9 forms that employers must maintain to show they have verified that the employee is legally allowed to work enforcement, through the arrest of employers, knowing- ly employing undocumented workers, and the arrest of unauthorized workers for vio- lation of laws associated with working without authorization, and instilling a cul- ture 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 verifica- tion 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 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