Jackson Mayor Calls on Churches to Protect Illegal Aliens After Massive ICE Raids Net 680 Suspected Illegals Working at Mississippi Chicken Plants

Jackson, Mississippi Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba posted a plea for churches to give sanctuary to illegal aliens in the wake of ICE raids on several chicken processing plants in Mississippi Wednesday that detained about 680 suspected illegal aliens. It was the largest workplace enforcement actions in the nation’s history, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of Mississippi.

Images via ICE.

Lumumba’s statement:

 

“The City of Jackson is firmly committed to promoting and securing safe communities. We unflinchingly uphold the canon of human rights for human beings. The ICE raids are both dehumanizing and ineffective as a tactic for protecting citizens from potential harm. These raids will only further alienate communities from law enforcement, disrupt community policing efforts, and cause law enforcement to forfeit credibility and trust among the people they are sworn to protect and serve. I’m calling upon faith institutions in our community to become sanctuaries for our immigrant neighbors and protect them from potential harm. The City of Jackson strongly objects to the Trump administration’s ICE raids.”

U.S. Attorney’s Office statement:

Largest Single-State Worksite Enforcement Action in Nation’s History Conducted by ICE and DOJ at Various Sites Across Mississippi

Approximately 680 Aliens Detained Pursuant to Federal Search Warrants

Jackson, Miss. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, executed multiple federal criminal search warrants this morning for evidence relating to various federal crimes, as well as administrative search warrants searching for individuals illegally present in the United States, at seven sites across the State of Mississippi, announced Acting Director of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Matthew Albence, Jere Miles, HSI Special Agent in Charge in New Orleans, and Mike Hurst, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi.

“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,” said HSI New Orleans Special Agent in Charge Miles.

“The execution of federal search warrants today was simply about enforcing the rule of law in our state and throughout our great country. I commend these federal agents, our state and local law enforcement partners, and our federal prosecutors for their professionalism and dedication to ensure that those who violate our laws are held accountable. We are a nation of laws, and we will remain so by continuing to enforce our laws and ensuring that justice is done,” said U.S. Attorney Hurst.

As a result of today’s operation, approximately 680 aliens were detained by HSI special agents. Some are being identified as being eligible for an alternative to detention based on humanitarian reasons. These individuals will be physically returned by HSI to their original place of detention and will still be required to appear before a federal immigration judge who will ultimately determine whether or not they will be deported. Currently, all cases are being handled via administrative law procedures at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Family members of those detained can call ICE’s toll-free detainee locator hotline for information about an individual’s detention location and status, as well as information about the removal process. This hotline operates in English and Spanish. The phone number is 1-888-351-4024.

All of those detained are being interviewed, fingerprinted and photographed by ICE agents, processed for removal from the United States, and transported to an ICE facility in Jena, Louisiana.

This operation is part of multiple ongoing criminal investigations.

Excerpt from AP report on the raids:

U.S. immigration officials raided numerous Mississippi food processing plants Wednesday, arresting 680 mostly Latino workers in what marked the largest workplace sting in at least a decade.

…About 600 agents fanned out across the plants involving several companies, surrounding the perimeters to prevent workers from fleeing. They occurred in small towns near Jackson with a workforce made up largely of Latino immigrants, including Bay Springs, Carthage, Canton, Morton, Pelahatchie and Sebastapol.

…The Morton plant produces more than 700,000 tons of poultry feed a year, company officials said in February. The company has no relation to prominent conservative political donors and activists Charles and David Koch.

Agents arrived at the Morton plant, passing a chain-link fence with barbed wire on top, with a sign that said the company was hiring. Mike Hurst, the U.S. attorney for Mississippi, was at the scene.

…Immigration agents also hit a Peco Foods Inc. plant in Canton, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of Jackson. The company, based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, says it is the eighth-largest poultry producer in the U.S. A company representative did not immediately respond to a telephone call or email seeking comment.

ICE statement:

JACKSON, Miss. – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) executed multiple federal criminal search warrants at seven agricultural processing plants across Mississippi Wednesday morning as part of an ongoing HSI worksite enforcement criminal investigation.

In addition to executing federal search warrants and seizing business records pertaining to the ongoing federal criminal investigation, deportation officers with ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in partnership with HSI detained approximately 680 removable aliens who were unlawfully working at the plants.

All the unlawfully present foreign nationals arrested Wednesday are being interviewed by ICE staff to record any potential mitigating humanitarian situations. Based on these interviews, and consideration of their criminality and prior immigration history, ICE is determining on a case-by-case basis based on the totality of the circumstances which individuals will be detained and which persons may be released from custody at present. In all cases, all the illegal aliens encountered as part of this operation are either being placed into removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts, and for those who already received due process and have been ordered removed, processed for removal from the U.S.

A 24-hour toll-free hotline is available for family members of those arrested in this operation to address questions about their detention location and status, and the removal process. This hotline operates in English and Spanish; the phone number is 1-855-479-0502.

This HSI-led operation was conducted in coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, of which U.S. Attorney D. Michael Hurst Jr. will prosecute any resulting federal criminal charges.

HSI is the federal law enforcement agency responsible for upholding the laws established by the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which requires employers to verify the identity and work eligibility of individuals they hire. These laws help protect jobs for U.S. citizens and lawful U.S. residents, eliminate unfair competitive advantages for companies that unlawfully hire an illegal workforce, and strengthen public safety and national security.

Unauthorized workers often use stolen identities of legal U.S. workers, which can profoundly damage for years the identity-theft victim’s credit, medical records and other aspects of their everyday life.

HSI’s worksite enforcement investigators help combat worker exploitation, illegal wages, child labor and other illegal practices. Worksite enforcement investigations often involve additional criminal activity, such as alien smuggling, human trafficking, money laundering, document fraud, worker exploitation and/or substandard wage and working conditions.

In addition to worksite enforcement operations like this one, HSI also uses I-9 audits to create a culture of compliance among employers. In July 2018, ICE announced a two-phase operation under this effort.

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