Sushi Zushi audited by ICE

Restaurant chain closes all SA, Austin, DFW locations

SAN ANTONIO – Sushi Zushi, the popular San Antonio-based restaurant chain, closed all its Texas locations Friday after learning the company is being audited by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Customers at San Antonio locations arrived to find locked doors and a note apologizing for the inconvenience.

"I came to enjoy some sushi on my daughter's birthday and was quite disappointed," said Adel Young, who came to the Collonade location.

In a written statement, Sushi Zushi said the decision to close its restaurants was made by executive management, due to an "unanticipated internal reaction to news of a routine I-9 audit."

After learning of the audit, the company said, several employees did not report to work.

By federal law, companies are required to keep an I-9 form on record for every employee hired. The form verifies either U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, immigration raids have decreased and I-9 audits have risen dramatically under the Obama administration, with the government focusing more on businesses that hire undocumented workers than the workers themselves.

In 2010, Abercrombie and Fitch, a clothing retailer, was fined $1 million for failing to adequately verify the employment eligibility of its workers.

In its statement, Sushi Zushi said it is working with legal counsel to respond to the government's audit, and that the company has made its best efforts to comply with I-9 requirements.

The company did not indicate when its restaurants might re-open.

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