Federal immigration officials arrested 680 illegal workers in Mississippi. On Wednesday, hundreds of people presumed to be working in the United States without authorization at several food-processing plantations were arrested and escorted by ICE agents.
These raids were coordinated and conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. According to an ICE statement, the arrests occurred at ”seven agricultural processing plants across Mississippi”. While approximately 680 workers were arrested, more than 600 ICE agents were also involved in the raids across the land.
The plants targeted mainly Latino immigrants and the surrounding of the perimeters was done so as to prevent workers from escaping the area. It was reported that the plants were near Jackson and owned by five different companies. Koch Foods Inc. is one of the most famous and big plantations with more than 13,000 employees. According to Forbes ranks, it was also ranked as 135th in the largest privately help companies in the country. Fortune estimated its annual revenue at a high of $3.2 billion.
Some would argue that this kind of revenue is possible because of the low salaries they give to illegal workers and the fact that they take advantage of their precarious situation. Another plant that was raided is owned by Peco Foods and is based in Tuscaloosa. It was also classified very high in the poultry producer ranking, coming in 8th across the nation.
So far, no representative of either company responded to email or telephone requests to comment on the situation. What we know so far is that the hundreds of people were bused to a local Mississippi National Guard hanger where they were interviewed on their immigration status and if they had previously received deportation orders.
Attorney Julia Solorzano with the Southern Poverty Law Center released a statement by email saying: ”Today’s raids are part of the ongoing war against immigrant families and the communities in which they live.” She went on deploring the way things were handled by the authorities saying: ”It is especially sickening that days after immigrants were targeted by a gunman in El Paso, Texas, workers at plants across Mississippi witnessed armed agents descending on their workplace.”
This is the largest raid operation, bigger than the one under George W. Bush back in 2008 where more than 400 unauthorized workers were arrested in Iowa at a meatpacking facility.