Homan added that employment opportunities offered by businesses that hire illegal workers are a factor that drives illegal immigration.
A notice of inspection alerts business owners that ICE is going to audit their hiring records to determine whether or not they are in compliance with the law.
But ICE officers served audit notices at four stores in the Portland metro area, the agency reports.
"Today's actions send a strong message to US 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", tweeted Tom Homan, acting director of ICE. The chain with more than 8,600 convenience stores in the US said it has previously ended franchise agreements for owners convicted of breaking employment laws.
The raids on Wednesday grew out of a 2013 ICE investigation that resulted in charges against nine 7-Eleven franchisees and managers in NY and Virginia who allegedly used more than 25 stolen identities to employ over 100 people who were in the country illegally.
Mr. Homan, the nation's top immigration-enforcement official, has promised more scrutiny of businesses that knowingly violate federal laws requiring employers to verify the identity and employment eligibility of their workers.
The 21 employees from various stores arrested on charges of being illegal now faces deportation.
In the coming days, the ICE is expected to carry out more similar raids across the country as part of the Trump administrations efforts against illegal immigrants in the country.
GONZALES: Critics say workplace enforcement actions during the George W. Bush administration were not effective. This means that all store associates in a franchised store are employees of the Franchisee and not 7-Eleven, Inc. Several have pleaded guilty and forfeited their franchises, and have been ordered to pay millions of dollars in back wages owed to the workers.
Rezaei noted the increase in targeting of immigrants since the advent of the Trump administration. "We have seen this administration target immigrants with status and without".
The Times said that when DOL gives information to ICE, it redacts a field on the driver's license application showing a Social Security number, but leaves visible fields showing where someone was born and the ID used (passports or other documents) - information that could be used as evidence of a foreign-born person who possibly could be in the country illegally. But, he said, the administration would need to go beyond audits. In a shift, the agency under President Barack Obama focused on catching border crossers, deporting convicted criminals and pursuing employers on paper, by inspecting the I-9 forms that employers are required to fill out and keep to verify their workers' eligibility.