Published: Fri, August 09, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Mississippi Immigration Raids Net 680 Arrests

Mississippi Immigration Raids Net 680 Arrests

Mike Hurst, the USA attorney for MS, was at the scene.

"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".

ICE agents raided plants in the towns of Morton, Carthage, Canton, Pelahatchie, Sebastopol and Bay Springs, all in the state of MS, officials said.

A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official said Wednesday that search warrants were executed at seven locations across the state targeting several companies.

The crackdown came after a year-long investigation into illegal employment of immigrants in the state, officials said. "But the thing that they (ICE) did is devastating", she said.

Cox said 30 of those who had been released were let go at the plants, while about 270 were released from a military hangar where they'd been taken after the raids.

Workers who were confirmed to have legal status were allowed to leave the plant after having their trunks searched.

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.

Matthew Albence, ICE's acting director, told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday in Pearl, just down the road from the Koch plant, that the raids could be the largest-ever workplace operation in any single state.

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On Wednesday, a hangar at a Mississippi Air National Guard base in Flowood, adjoining the Jackson airport, was set up to process those who were detained.

Gabriela Rosales, right, confers with friends outside the employee entrance to the Koch Foods plant in Morton, Mississippi.

Videos and photos showed agents arriving in buses to question and arrest the people.

A few workers tried to flee on foot but were captured from the factory premises.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials say 680 people were arrested in Wednesday's raids.

The worksite enforcement is reminiscent of the George W. Bush administration, which regularly conducted large worksite enforcement raids.

While planned months ago, it coincided with the day that Trump was to visit El Paso to offer his condolences to the majority-Latino city after a gunman linked with an anti-Hispanic post online fatally shot 22 people on Saturday. The former owner of the Tennessee plant was sentenced to 18 months in prison last month.

The Rev. Mike O'Brien, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Canton, said he waited outside the Peco Foods plant in the city until 4 a.m. Thursday for workers returning by bus.

'This will affect the economy, ' Maria Isabel Ayala, a child care worker for plant employees, said as the buses left. President Barack Obama avoided them, limiting his workplace immigration efforts to low-profile audits that were done outside of public view.

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