Just Days After Latinos Were Targets Of A Mass Shooting, ICE Conducts The Largest Raid In A Decade
America’s Latino and immigrant communities are still reeling after a white terrorist directly targeted the Latino community in a mass shooting. But that didn’t stop ICE from conducting the largest single-state raid in history on Wednesday, netting 680 arrests of largely Latino workers across Mississippi.
Workers, many of whom had kids in daycare or at school, were arrested and booked into military hangers with no chance of communicating with their families. Images of children In tears waiting at school, assuming the worst had happened, quickly went viral.
And the rest of us are left wondering how is this happening?
ICE conducted massive raids across Mississippi that resulted in 680 arrests of undocumented migrants.
On Wednesday, ICE arrested undocumented workers in one of the largest worksite operations ever conducted by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. In total, some 680 suspected undocumented workers were arrested Wednesday after ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations agents swept through seven agricultural plants in the state as part of a criminal investigation. Deportation officers and HSI agents arrested the workers as they served criminal search warrants at the food plants.
The coordinated raids were conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations “at seven agricultural processing plants across Mississippi,” according to an ICE statement. In addition to the arrests, agents seized company business records.
More than 600 ICE agents were involved in the raids, surrounding the perimeters of the targeted plants to prevent workers, mainly Latino immigrants, from escaping. The actions were centered on plants near Jackson owned by five companies, according to The Associated Press.
Many families were left wondering what was going on.
One woman, Dianne, told Buzzfeed news that her fiancé had called her to warn her that he would be arrested and she could hear the panic and commotion in the background. Her husband has three children from his previous marriage who Dianna has helped raise.
Dianne raced to the school to pick up the kids. On her way out of the school, she saw one girl looking confused, not knowing where to go because her parents had been arrested too.
“They were crying. They were shocked. They’re just worried,” Dianne said of her fiancé’s children. “I’m just trying to stay strong for them. I’m trying to remain as calm as possible. It’s one thing to know this could happen but it is another to see it happening. This is heart-wrenching. They are scared.”
ICE officials said the raids had been planned for sometime and that they’re a key strategy of the Trump administration’s attempt to clamp down on migrants.
The arrests Wednesday were part of the Trump administration’s renewed focus on cracking down on businesses suspected of employing undocumented workers. ICE officials have said that employers who hire undocumented workers gain an “unfair advantage” over others and take jobs from US citizens and legal residents.
The city of Jackson, where several raids took place, came out strongly condemning the raids.
The city of Jackson, Mississippi came out strongly against the raids. The mayor’s office said what many of us already know: these raids do not make communities safer and instead terrorize families, disrupt the economy, and instill fear in the community.
While John Sandweg, former acting director of ICE under the Obama administration, said Wednesday’s operation was massive in scope and would have a long-term impact on the immigrant community.
“This is a high-profile way to send a message and to create more fear in immigrant communities about ICE and about their ability to live and work in this country,” he said. “This burns an incredible amount of resources to apprehend people, few of whom pose any threat to the US. It’s for show more than for anything else.”
Photos of children left alone and scared when their parent’s couldn’t pick them up quickly went viral.
Many who were arrested had little time to contact their families or make arrangements for kids still at school or in daycare. So when it came time to be picked up and their parents never came for them, many children were distraught.
Local reports showed that some children were being taken to gyms and libraries by volunteers and people were donating snacks and food to the children. By late Wednesday, all the children left behind had been reunited with a relative.
Many were speaking out against the raids including democratic presidential candidates.
From Kamala Harris to Bernie Sanders and Julián Castro, many came out strongly against the raids. Each of them pointed out the trauma this can cause in a child’s life and the ineffectiveness of such raids.
When asked how a federal agency could leave behind so many kids, ICE didn’t have much to offer.
”What I can say is that every law enforcement agency in the nation arrests persons who may be parents when those persons commit arrestable offenses, and this agency has taken and is continuing to take extensive steps to take special care of situations,” ICE Southern Region Communications director Bryan Cox said in the statement.
Cox said the detainees “were advised … to let ICE officers know if they had any children who were at school or childcare and needed to be picked up.”
The ACLU and immigrant’s rights organizations were warning people to be prepared and to know your rights.
In an unusually strong warning, the ACLU warned people that this is not a drill Massive raids of undocumented people are happening now. And they urged people to know their rights so they can speak up and fight back.