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7-Eleven store owners accused of exploiting immigrants

One of the biggest reasons why so many people are in support of immigration reform in the United States -- including a path to citizenship -- is because countless undocumtned immigrants are taken advantage of and treated unfairly each day throughout the country because of their illegal status.

Even some well-known companies have been accused of exploiting immigrants trying to work and support themselves in the United States. Most recently, several 7-Eleven stores were accused of doing just that. The owners and managers of nine 7-Eleven stores in Long Island and Virginia were accused of profiting heavily by exploiting workers from Pakistan and the Philippines.

According to reports, the exploitation included paying the immigrant workers, who did not have permission to be in the United States, using stolen Social Security numbers while also stealing most of their wages. Prosecutors say that the businesses earned tens of millions of dollars in the scheme, which was uncovered after federal agents raided 14 7-Eleven stores.

Many of the nine defendants who were arrested are also immigrants, including four who hold both U.S. and Pakistani citizenship and one who is a citizen of the Philippines. Essentially, the defendants are accused of employing more than 50 undocumented immigrants since 2000 and concealing their true identities by stealing the Social Secuirty numbers of about 24 people.

The authorities said that the defendants confiscated about 75 percent of the wages that the 7-Eleven headquarters paid to the immigrant workers. Authorities said the defendants also forced the workers to live in homes that the defendants owned, and they were forced to pay rent in cash.

"These nine defendants created a modern-day plantation system, with themselves as overseers, with the immigrant workers as subjects, living in their version of a company town," a U.S. attorney said in a news conference this week.

Source: Associated Press, "Feds: NY, Va. 7-Eleven stores exploited immigrants," Larry Neumeister and Tom Hays, June 17, 2013

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