USA immigration officials raided several MS food processing plants on Wednesday and signaled that the early-morning strikes were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as employees.
A report at Fox News details that around 600 ICE agents raided the various food processing plants as part of the operation. He says about 30 were released at the plants and about 270 others were released from the military hangar where they had been brought after the raids to be processed.
MS is the fifth-largest chicken producing state in the U.S and the tough processing jobs are mainly filled by Latino immigrants who are eager to do any work.
"ICE HSI's worksite enforcement program is a key element in deterring illegal immigration to the U.S., since the vast majority of illegal aliens will attempt to gain employment after they arrive and embed in the United States".
"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. A Koch Foods plant in Morton was also raided.
The crackdown came after a year-long investigation into illegal employment of immigrants in the state, officials said.
"The ICE raids are both dehumanizing and ineffective as a tactic for protecting citizens from potential harm", Lumumba said.
About 70 family, friends and residents waved goodbye and shouted: 'Let them go!
Workers, including Domingo Candelaria, who could show they were in the country legally were allowed to leave the plant after agents searched the trunks of their vehicles. Some employees tried to flee on foot but were captured in the parking lot.
A tearful 13-year-old boy whose parents are from Guatemala waved goodbye to his mother, a Koch worker, as he stood beside his father.
In Morton, 40 miles east off capital Jackson, workers filled three buses at a Koch Foods plant. Barack Obama avoided them, limiting his workplace immigration efforts to low-profile audits that were done outside of public view.
Last year, the Trump administration raided a meatpacking plant in eastern Tennessee.
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. It is the 8th largest poultry producer in the USA, according to the company's website.
Trump resumed workplace raids, but the months of preparation and hefty resources they require make them rare.