This is almost beyond belief.
More than a dozen 7-Eleven franchises took in more than $180 million in revenue by running a “modern-day plantation system,” prosecutors in New York charged on Monday, built on the unpaid labor of dozens of illegal immigrants hired using sham Social Security numbers.Fourteen 7-Eleven stores were seized by federal law enforcement officials, including locations in Virginia and Long Island. Nine owners and managers were arrested. An additional forty other 7-Eleven franchises are also under investigation. The investigation was carried out by the Homeland Security Department and the Department of Justice.
Through the scheme, the defendants, who as franchisees for the parent company were licensed to use 7-Eleven buildings, trademarks and Slurpee and hot dog machines, recruited more than 50 illegal immigrants and gave them identities stolen from American citizens, including children and dead people.
The employees worked for 100 hours a week but were paid for a fraction of that time, and were forced to live in substandard housing owned by the operators of the convenience stores, the authorities said.
According to the article, the managers/owners submitted the full number of hours worked by these employees to the parent company, but then held back much of the money that was supposed to be paid out in wages, such that the employees recevied somewhere between $3 and $5 per hour for their 100 hours of work per week.
Loretta E. Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, played a lead role in the investigation, and called the scheme "a modern-day plantation system."
These abuses speak for themselves. You don't need me to tell you how to feel about the people who would perpetrate them.
With the debate on comprehensive immigration reform happening right now in Congress, let's hope that what happened in this case encourages our representatives to do everything possible to end the status quo, one that leaves millions of undocumented workers vulnerable to exactly these kinds of abuses.
Let Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) look these abused people in the eye and tell them why he opposes comprehensive immigration reform.
Let Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) explain to these abused people why he wants changes to a bi-partisan bill he agreed to, changes that may well destroy any remaining chance of it passing.
Let all your Senators and Congresspeople know that the time has come for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented workers and other protections that would make it much more difficult for an employer do something like this again.
PS-Please check out my new book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity, published by Potomac Books, where I discuss Barack Obama's ideas on racial, ethnic, and national identity in detail, and contrast his inclusive vision to language coming from Mitt Romney, Rush Limbaugh and (some) others on the right. You can read a review by DailyKos's own Greg Dworkin here.