ICE Arrests 680 Immigrant Workers in Mississippi


August 9, 2019

Magdalena Gomez Gregorio, 11, is left crying outside in Forest after her dad was arrested. (Source: CBS News)

With no advance warning to schools or social service agencies, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents launched raids on 7 food processing plants in Mississippi on August 7, arresting 680 workers. The distraught eleven year-old girl weeping for her arrested father breaks my heart (CBS News video, about 45 seconds in).

Advocates, service providers, and lawyers in Mississippi and others from outside the state are joining in the effort to help the families affected. This is a traumatic experience for entire communities, with long-term consequences for children. The National Immigration Law Center reminds us that after raids in Iowa in 2008, research found “…that Iowa infants born to Latina mothers had significantly higher risk of low birthweight.” Children experiencing the trauma of a parent taken away can suffer in multiple ways for years.

In the days to come, there should be a full assessment about the consequences of these raids. We need to understand the ways the law and its enforcement can best reflect our humane values and the public interest.

But right now, we want to share this from a short piece from the Center on Law and Social Policy (CLASP):

“We also are deeply troubled that ICE appears to no longer be fully implementing its own guidelines, which were created in 2007, under the Bush Administration, specifically to mitigate the harm of worksite raids on children and communities. These guidelines include timely release of certain vulnerable populations, including sole caretakers of minor children, and advance notification of worksite actions to local social service agencies. It is irresponsible and reckless to carry out such massive operations without taking every possible step to ensure that children are not unnecessarily terrorized and separated from their parents and that social service agencies are not carrying the burden of response alone.”

As reported by NBC News, while ICE did release 30 parents with very young children immediately and another 270 within a day (many of whom had no arrangements to care for their children otherwise), they did not coordinate with Mississippi’s Department of Child Protective Services or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and did not take steps to ensure that every child had a safe place to go.

Their parents are workers. If they are undocumented, they share that status with workers in Trump hotels, golf courses, and construction crews. Just today, the Washington Post quoted one Trump worker:  “If you’re a good worker, papers don’t matter.” On the same day, President Trump was touting the raids as “a very good deterrent.” It gives no satisfaction to note this further evidence of Hypocrisy on Parade, although this is a particularly high-stepping variety. People are hurting and businesses are profiting.

We have to do better.