Things That Matter

ICE Arrested 97 Undocumented Immigrants In A Massive Raid On A Tennessee Meatpacking Plant

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) officials detained 97 undocumented people, on April 5, at a meatpacking plant in a rural town in Tennessee. According to some news reports, the raid in Bean Station, Tennessee, may be the largest detainment by ICE since the George W. Bush Administration.

In an email to mitu, an ICE spokesperson said they couldn’t disclose the size of the raid. They did, however, provide context as to what led to the raid at the meatpacking plant.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division, and the Tennessee Highway Patrol, executed a federal criminal search warrant at Southeastern Provision. During that search, HSI encountered 97 individuals who are subject to removal from the United States. Ten of those encountered were arrested on federal criminal charges, one was arrested on state charges and 86 were arrested on administrative charges. Of the 86 administrative arrests placed in removal proceedings, ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) placed 54 in detention and 32 were released from custody.”

According to Knox News, Southeastern Provisions — the meatpacking plant in Grainger County — has avoided paying taxes for more than a decade. They also report that the corporation has avoided paying $2.5 million in payroll taxes, which means they paid their undocumented employees in cash only.

Various communities and organizations in the surrounding parts of Tennessee have rallied to support the families left behind.

CREDIT: Facebook/Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition [TIRRC]
Aside from tax fraud, Knox News also reports that the meatpacking plant had several sanitation violations. These violations affected employees and the products. Organizations such as the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition have been raising funds and goods to help the families left behind. Many families lost their sole providers.

“Children were left without primary caretakers, and local churches have provided sanctuary for dozens of others,” TIRRC said in a press release.

“Our communities have lived under intense fear since the Trump administration began, and this raid – coupled with local law enforcement involvement – will send shockwaves across the country,” Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director of TIRRC said in a press release.

Raul, a 16-year-old impacted by the raid, lost his mom, uncle, and aunt in the raid.

Raul Reflects on Tennessee Raid

Raul is 16. Instead of spending this weekend hanging out with friends, he's figuring out how to tell his two-year-old sister that their mom, uncle, and aunt might be deported. "To everyone else whose families are in there with mine, I'd tell them to fight this."Learn more: https://advancementproject.org/news/administration-criminalizes-immigrants-tennessee-raid/

Posted by Advancement Project (DC) on Monday, April 9, 2018

Raul talked about how scared he is in this situation. He also talked about having to tell his 2-year-old sister.

“To everyone else whose families are in there with mine, I’d tell them to fight this,” Raul said.

The organization has started a collection of funds, goods, and clothing for the families.

Posted by Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition [TIRRC] on Friday, April 6, 2018

If you’d like to make a donation to their GoFundme page, click here.

There will be a prayer vigil for the detainees tonight.


READ: Six Children Have Been Orphaned After A Couple Died In A Car Accident While Trying To Flee ICE Officers

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This Migrant Mother Spent Three Years In Church Sanctuary But Now She’s Free

Things That Matter

This Migrant Mother Spent Three Years In Church Sanctuary But Now She’s Free

Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Lawyers are working hard to get a deportation order removed against a woman who just left a church sanctuary after three years in the refuge. Although she was previously denied asylum in the U.S., advocates are hoping that under new direction from the Biden administration, her case will be reviewed and she’ll be able to stay with her family in Ohio – where she’s lived for more than twenty years.

A mother of three is back with her family after living three years inside a church.

A mother of three who sought refugee inside an Ohio church from immigration authorities has finally been able to leave three years later. Edith Espinal, who herself is an immigrant rights advocate, had been living at the Columbus Mennonite Church since October 2017 to avoid being deported to Mexico. She’s now out of the church and back with her family following a meeting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, who have agreed that she’s not an immediate priority for deportation.

“Finally, I can go home,” Espinal told reporters after meeting with the officials. With tears of relief, she celebrated the small victory in the presence of dozens of supporters who accompanied her to the ICE building.

“But it is not the end of her case. We’re still going to have to fight,” her attorney Lizbeth Mateo said.

ICE has agreed to hold off on her deportation proceedings pending her asylum request.

Espinal was released under an order of supervision, meaning that while she’s not considered an immediate priority for deportation, she must periodically check in with ICE officials to inform them about her whereabouts.

She has lived in Columbus for more than two decades and had previously applied for asylum, citing rising violence in her home state of Michoacán. But she eventually was ordered to leave the country, which is when she sought refuge inside the Columbus, Ohio church.

“We’re going to continue pressing the Biden administration to do the right thing, and try to get rid of that order of deportation against Edith, so she can walk freely like everyone else does without fear,” Mateo said during the press conference.

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The Rio Grande Claims Life Of An 8-Year-Old Boy As Migrants Risk Arctic Conditions To Cross Into U.S.

Things That Matter

The Rio Grande Claims Life Of An 8-Year-Old Boy As Migrants Risk Arctic Conditions To Cross Into U.S.

David Peinado/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Texas is seeing an unprecedented weather crisis as much of the state is plunged into bitterly cold conditions. But that hasn’t stopped many migrants and refugees from attempting to cross into the U.S. for protection.

Many migrants cross the Rio Grande (or Río Bravo en Mexico) between Texas and the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. Crossing the Rio Grande is always a dangerous undertaking but now, thanks to the freezing weather, it’s an especially perilous journey and it’s claimed the life of another child.

An 8-year-old boy has drowned while crossing the river with his family.

Authorities have reported that an 8-year-old Honduran boy has become the latest victim in a string of drownings at the Rio Grande, between the the U.S. and Mexico. Despite the unprecedented weather, migrants continue to attempt to cross the dangerous river to reach the U.S.

The child was with his family attempting to cross the river when he drowned on Wednesday, just as Texas was gripped by Arctic conditions which have killed more than 30 people and left millions in Mexico and Texas without power, water and food. The boy’s parents and sister apparently made it to the U.S., but were returned to Mexico by U.S. Border Patrol.

According to Mexican immigration officials, the boy “couldn’t withstand the pounding water, which covered him and kept him submerged for several meters”. His body was recovered but attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

The Rio Grande is notoriously dangerous for people attempting to cross the border.

The journey across the Rio Grande has always been a perilous one, with hundreds of people, many of whom could not swim, having drowned over the years after being caught by the deceptively deep waters and strong current.

Add in the current winter storm currently blanketing the entire state of Texas, has produced significant snow and prolonged freezing temperatures, has made the crossing even more dangerous.

In fact, earlier in the week, the river had claimed another victim. A woman from Venezuela died trying to cross the river in the same area after getting trapped in below-freezing currents. Three others suffered hypothermia: one was treated by the Red Cross in Mexico, while the other two made it the US border.

Drownings are just one of the dangers migrants face.

Apart from the potential for drownings, migrants face a wide range of dangerous while attempting to cross from Mexico into the U.S. In late January, 19 bodies were found shot and burned in a vehicle near the town of Camargo, also across the border from Texas.

There’s also the threat of violence from drug cartels and smugglers, corrupt officials, and other extreme elements, such as heat during the summer.

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