MS immigration raids net 680 arrests

Elias Hubbard
August 8, 2019

"HSI's worksite enforcement efforts are equally focused on aliens who unlawfully seek work in the U.S.as well as the employers who knowingly hire them", HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Jere Miles said.

The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on November 6, 1986, making knowingly hiring of illegal immigrants penalizable by financial and other penalties.

Asked to comment on the fact that the raids, planned months ago, were coinciding with Trump's visit to El Paso, Albence responded: "This is a long-term operation that's been going on".

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents are executing federal search warrants today at multiple locations across the state of MS as part of a coordinated operation with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of MS pursuant to ongoing HSI criminal and administrative investigations", ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said in an email, according to The Hill.

Such large shows of force were common under George W Bush, most notably at a kosher meatpacking plant in tiny Postville, Iowa, in 2008.

During the administration of former President Barack Obama, ICE prioritized the arrests of recent border crossers, people who had previously been ordered deported and those seen as a threat to public safety.

Trump resumed workplace raids, but the months of preparation and hefty resources they require make them rare. Employees formed seven lines, one for each workplace raided, with fingerprint scanners and document printers at each interview station. As a result of today's operation, 680 people were detained by Homeland Security investigators.

Wednesday's operation was carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations in partnership with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of MS, according to a statement from officials.

Koch Foods, based in Park Ridge, Illinois, is one of the largest poultry producers in the U.S., with an estimated annual revenue of $3.2bn.

The Morton plant that was raided produces more than 700,000 tons of poultry feed a year. The plant is not associated with the GOP mega-donor billionaires Charles and David Koch.

Agents passed a chain-link fence with barbed wire on top and a sign that said the company was hiring. Mike Hurst, the U.S. attorney for MS, was at the scene.

The towns hit include Bay Springs, Carthage, Canton, Morton, Pelahatchie and Sebastapol. Workers' wrists were tied with plastic bands and they deposited personal belongings in clear plastic bags.

ICE agents searched the plant, asking employees for identification.

'This will affect the economy, ' Maria Isabel Ayala, a child care worker for plant employees, said as the buses left. 'Without them here, how will you get your chicken?' On its website, Peco Foods says it is the 8th largest poultry producer in the United States.

No representatives for either company responded to an email request or telephone call for comment.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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