This ongoing debate on immigration reform in the United States reached a new tipping point yesterday after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents invaded a food production plant in Morton, Mississippi, arresting 680 undocumented workers who were unable to provide identification. This is believed to be the largest single-state immigration arrest in the history of the country.

Video shows family members crying as 600 agents got off buses in mass to interrogate and arrest the plant workers. Many children returned from their first days of school to discover that they could not get into their homes as their parents had been detained. Some children without available legal guardians have been sent to family members, with many others being kept in a local gym, supported by donations from community members.

Democratic candidates continue to speak out on the need for immigration reform as the Trump administration increases its enforcement of strict immigration laws. Presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris tweeted this morning that “ICE raids are designed to tear families apart, spread fear, and terrorize communities” and fellow Senator and 2020 candidate Cory Booker wrote “The moral vandalism of this administration has no end – how is traumatizing these kids, abandoning them, making anyone any safer?”

Throughout the last few months, the administration has been increasing the number of scheduled ICE raids as part of their crackdown on undocumented immigrants. Between May 13 and June 11 of this year, ICE arrested almost 900 adults. 130,432 people were deported within the first two quarters of the 2019 fiscal year.

This raid comes amid increasing reports of abuse by ICE officials, especially at the border. The policy of separating families resulted from the announcement of Trump’s “zero-tolerance” border policy in April, which aimed to prosecute as many border-crossers as possible – even those who turned themselves over to Border Patrol seeking asylum. Under this policy, parents were immediately sent into criminal custody, while children were classified as “unaccompanied alien children.” This classification used to only apply to minors crossing the border without an adult relative. It allowed Border Patrol to forcefully separate the children from their parents.

 

Media Resources: New York Times 7/23/19; Feminist Newswire 7/31/18; The Hill 8/7/19; BBC News 8/8/19

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