United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials conducted the largest workplace raid in more than a decade on Wednesday when they arrested 680 migrants at seven food processing plants in Mississippi.
The Associated Press reports U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Matthew Albence said the immigration raid is likely the largest ever for a single state.
The affected cities and towns included Bay Springs, Carthage, Canton, Morton, Pelahatchie, and Sebastapol.
Here’s more, from the report:
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said Wednesday that search warrants were executed at seven locations across the state targeting several companies. They include the Morton plant of poultry producer Koch Foods Inc., which has no relation to Charles and David Koch. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the operation were not intended for publication.
The official says owners as well as employees are targeted in a federal criminal investigation.
The AP witnessed dozens of agents ready to process the workers inside a military facility in Flowood, Miss., with seven lines, one for each location.
Speaking on the arrests, Southern District U.S Attorney Mike Hurst said via WJTV: “While we are a nation of immigrants, more than that we are first and foremost a nation of laws.”
“The execution of federal search warrants today was simply about enforcing the rule of law in our state and throughout our great country,” Hurst added via Fox News. ” I commend these federal agents, our state and local law enforcement partners, and our federal prosecutors for their professionalism and dedication to ensure that those who violate our laws are held accountable.”
ICE later released a statement which said they were reviewing the immigration status of the migrants and said some may be released.
“All the unlawfully present foreign nationals arrested Wednesday are being interviewed by ICE staff to record any potential mitigating humanitarian situations,” the ICE statement said via Fox News.
The statement continued: “Based on these interviews, and consideration of their criminality and prior immigration history, ICE is determining on a case-by-case basis based on the totality of the circumstances which individuals will be detained and which persons may be released from custody at present.”
Fox News adds:
Such large raids were common under President George W. Bush, most notably at a kosher meatpacking plant in tiny Postville, Iowa, in 2008. Nearly 400 workers, mostly Guatemalans, were swept up and jailed as a result of that operation. President Barack Obama avoided them, limiting his workplace immigration efforts to low-profile audits that were done outside of public view.
Trump resumed workplace raids, but the months of preparation and hefty resources they require make them rare. Last year, the administration hit a landscaping company near Toledo, Ohio, and a meatpacking plant in eastern Tennessee. The former owner of the Tennessee plant was sentenced to 18 months in prison last month.
Some of the migrants which were apprehended were parents and WJTV reports neighbors and others in the local community are extending a helping hand to care for their children:
Following this massive illegal immigration enforcement many children of those arrested across the state are now left homeless with nowhere to go.
These children who some are as young as toddlers were relying on neighbors and even strangers to pick them up outside their homes after school and drive them to a community fitness center where people tried to keep them calm.
With the help of Clear Creek Boot Camp owner Jordan Barnes and other community leaders the kids will have a roof to sleep under at his gym for the night with donated food to eat.
“We’re going to have bedding available for them and we’re going to have food available for them just to get them through the night,” Barnes explained. “And if they need transportation to school tomorrow we’ll also take care of that.”