In what is reportedly the most extensive single-state immigration enforcement action in the history of the United States, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested approximately 680 undocumented immigrants Wednesday, CNN reported. The raids took place at seven sites in six different cities across southern Mississippi. Conducted at food-processing plants, the arrests are reportedly the result of the Homeland Security Investigation team’s execution of administrative and criminal search warrants, the culmination of a year’s investigative work.
“Today, through the hard work of these men and women, we are once again becoming a nation of laws,” said U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi Mike Hurst.
WJTV reports that the ramifications of the raids were felt immediately in the affected communities. A large number of children whose parents were taken into custody were left homeless and had to rely on their community leaders for guidance. In Forest, Mississippi, after what was the first day of school for many, instead of heading home, children were taken to the community gym. There they waited to be picked up by neighbors — or even strangers — who volunteered to care for the minors.
“Government please show some heart,” cried 11-year-old Magdalena Gomez Gregorio. “Let my parent be free.”
“The children that I’m with their mom’s been here for 15 years and she has no record,” said Christina Peralta, godmother to two children whose mother has been arrested in the raids. “A lot of people here have no record they’ve been here for 10 to 12 years.”
JUST NOW: ICE raided several Mississippi food processing plants and arrested 680 people. The largest ICE raid in 10 years!! This is outrageous, these are our neighbors, friends, and loved ones!!!! #AbolishICE https://t.co/Z0vT5JKbm5
— United We Dream (@UNITEDWEDREAM) August 7, 2019
Thanks to good Samaritans and community leaders, it appears the children will have food and shelter, at least for the time being.
“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,” said Clear Creek Boot Camp owner Jordan Barnes, a resident of one of the towns hit by the raids. “And if they need transportation to school tomorrow we’ll also take care of that.”
Per The Inquisitr, ICE has been having a tough time making arrests, as community members helped their neighbors avoid detection and those who were immigrants began learning their rights. In response to this, The Intercept reported, many agents turned to deception and surveillance to make their arrests. Some agents have gone so far as to impersonate police officers, potential employers, and even ordinary citizens. Others are following immigrants on their way to work, arresting them at traffic stops during their commute or — as in the case of the Mississippi raids — at their workplaces.
Using false pretenses to make an arrest, also known as a ruse, is legal in the U.S. Ruses have been part of ICE’s operational guidelines for at least 14 years, as was revealed by leaked internal memos from the department during President George W. Bush’s administration.
ICE is also planning to expand its expedited removal deportation program, as directed by an executive order issued by President Donald Trump. Under this new program, immigrants can be fast-tracked out of the country without any of the due-process protections afforded to most others. Previously, there were differences in how an immigrant was handled, based on how they crossed the border and where they were arrested. This new policy eliminates those stipulations, and also increases the time limit for deportation without an immigration hearing from 14 days to two years.