By Kelly Ryan

SUISUN CITY, Calif. (CBS13) – ICE agents swept 7-Eleven stores before dawn, cracking down on illegal workers and putting employers on notice.

Nearly 100 stores were targeted coast to coast with a strong message from immigration officials to U.S. businesses that hire an illegal workforce.

Agents showed up to a 7-Eleven on Sunset Avenue in Suisun City early this morning. It was a surprise to the store owner along with customers. A clerk told CBS13 agents had a very specific request.

Special agents served “notices of inspection” on a 7-Eleven Suisin City Wednesday morning. It was one of 98 stores of the chain nationwide targeted by immigration and customs enforcement.

Store employees say agents asked for identification and some paperwork and left a short time later. The store did not close down.

You can see in this surveillance video, agents working as part of the sweep, at a Santa Rosa 7-Eleven. Other northern California locations that were part of today’s probe included Santa Clara, Petaluma, north Sebastopol, and Napa.

Agents arrested 21 people suspected of being in the country illegally during the entire sweep. The action was targeted at management.

In a statement, ICE Deputy Director Thomas Homan called today’s actions a strong message to us employers hiring illegal workers saying in a statement:

“Businesses that hire illegal workers are a pull factor for illegal immigration and we are working hard to remove this magnet. ICE will continue its efforts to protect jobs for American workers by eliminating unfair competitive advantages for companies that exploit illegal immigration.”

Today’s actions come out of a four-year-old case against a franchisee in Long Island. The investigation, in that case, could lead to criminal charges or fines over the stores hiring practices.

7-Eleven stores are based in Irving Texas with more than 8,600 stores in the United States. At the Suisun City store, a regular customer says he didn’t see the agents interviewing store owners and managers this morning but thinks the raid was unfair.

“I don’t necessarily agree with that because if you’re not harming the community, I don’t fee like anyone should be bothering you,” he said.

ICE officials say if store owners aren’t compliant they will take aggressive steps to hold them accountable.

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