On August 7, ICE conducted a raid in the small town of Forest, Mississippi and nearly 700 undocumented workers were removed from a food processing plant. Later that evening, 300 of these individuals were released back to their families because they would be leaving behind small children unaccompanied, but given ankle bracelets to monitor them while they await court dates. There are very few immigration lawyers in Mississippi who would work pro bono to assist these displaced families, but many lawyers around the country have since volunteered.
In Forest, there is a large Latino population who are now petrified in light of the recent raid. Businesses and grocery stores are slowing down; children are not going to school. There is a widespread fear throughout the community and people are afraid to leave their homes and use money (in case they would need some for an emergency).
Acting ICE director, Matthew Albence, defended the raid by claiming those breaking the law were ultimately the ones to blame for this situation and that the “parents or the individuals that are breaking the law are ultimately the ones that are responsible for placing their children in this situation.”
ICE director, Albence uses a rhetoric typical of the Trump Administration, where he gaslights the victims as well as the general public to believe they ‘made’ them react the way they did; as though there was no choice but to punish harshly due to their actions. It also turns anti-immigrant sentiment up a notch by essentially validating their arguments in real time.
This raid has created such a widespread fear among the immigrant community that is only going to force individuals to perhaps have to pursue more obscure and dangerous routes in false attempts at safety from the Trump Administration’s most recent immigration crackdown. Many children are left traumatized after their parent(s) do not return home and they are told their parent(s) were taken away from their place of work and their families. In Forest, most of the schools have given much leeway for children to take time off from school so that they can try and get assistance for their mental health needs.
- Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance: a non-profit that aims to protect the rights of immigrants and their families in Mississippi.
- El Pueblo Immigration Rights Legal Services: an organization dedicated to providing low-cost humanitarian and family-based immigration legal services in Mississippi
Photo by Matt Popovich