The ICE-Men Cometh
In case you missed it, when it comes to immigration enforcement, there’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Donald Trump. Say what you want about his administration but, when it comes to its approach to immigration, it has been very out front, very outspoken and very consistent.
For convenience store owners and operators, there should be no lack of clarity about the enforcement environment in which we currently find ourselves. The conversation at the Immigration & Customs Enforcement Agency, or ICE, is not about visa quotas, not about high-tech brain drain, and not handwringing over I-9s. It’s about fulfilling the promises the President has made to his political base about being tough on illegal immigrants and punitive to those businesses that employ them.
How does he show that to his base? He brings the issue into their living rooms each night via the evening news. He does this by utilizing well-orchestrated and well-publicized raids on businesses and parading detainees in front of television cameras, which he knows can’t resist covering the events.
But in an interesting way, ICE has also been consistently inconsistent. It has been indiscriminate about which industries, which individual brands or which part of the country it has targeted. It has gone after all types of companies in all types of places, and the random nature of the raids should give operators pause. Our industry has been an early target and — news flash — will continue to be, especially with some larger brands that will attract significant media attention.
Operators need to realize that the c-store raids earlier this year in 24 states were not a one-time deal. We didn’t have “our turn” and now it’s someone else’s turn. We will continue to be in the crosshairs for ICE enforcement and should prepare accordingly.
Recently, I came across an excellent guide from NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, that gives operators some good advice on how to prepare and inoculate themselves. I have included the link here.
If operators are going to successfully defend themselves against enforcement agencies or immigration lawyers looking to make a quick dollar, they are going to have to demonstrate that they have done everything reasonable in their power to identify undocumented workers.
We know ICE is coming. We know what they are looking for. We know it’s not a question of if, but when. Operators would be smart not to roll the dice on this one and bet it will never be their turn.
Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.