This past week, immigration agents conducted an enormous series of raids in an effort to return to the enforcement of the nation’s laws with regard to U.S. businesses that failed to screen new employees. Not since the Bush 43 administration has the Homeland Security Department allowed its agents and officers to visit private sector businesses and organizations to determine the immigration status of work forces, according to officials at the National Association of Chiefs of Police (NACOP).
For example, on Wednesday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement concluded a series of probes on seven different chicken processing plants in Mississippi. During those seven visits. Close to 680 arrests of suspected illegal aliens were performed by ICE agents.
The large-scale dragnet consisted hundreds of ICE agents to investigate the chicken processing plants, making sure to completely surround the perimeter to prevent workers from escaping. Arrests were made both inside the company’s buildings and outside of the buildings within a company’s parking lots or garages.
“[It] is believed to be the largest single-state immigration enforcement operation in our nation’s history, today at seven sites,” U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi Mike Hurst said in a press statement. Those detained by ICE who were able to demonstrate that they were in the U.S. legally were immediately allowed to leave.
ICE filled three buses, two for men and one for women, with detainees to be transported roughly 40 miles to a military hangar near Mississippi’s capital city of Jackson for processing.
ICE set up a processing center at the Mississippi Air National Guard Base which consisted of seven departments. The illegal immigrants formed lines correlating with their workplace and eventually went through interview stations with fingerprint scanners and document printers.
Base’s hangers were equipped with cooling misters blowing in front of fans and the detainees were fed with over 2,000 catered meals.
Massive workplace raids used to be relatively common under President George W. Bush, but his successor, President Barack Obama, tended to shy away from them. Obama preferred to use low-profile audits to curb the hiring of illegal immigrants and an ICE press release rarely mentioned raids on companies that hired hundreds of illegal aliens.
President Donald Trump, much to the chagrin of his political opponents, resumed the practices of the last Republican administration. These raids are rare, however, as they eat up a considerable amount of resources and planning time.
“On a day when we seek unifying words and acts to heal the nation’s broken heart, President Trump allows so many families and communities to be torn apart,” Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, said in response to the successful sting.
The connection was purely coincidental, however, as an operation of such magnitude certainly took months of preparation. Acting ICE director Matthew Albence confirmed this in a later interview with Fox News Channel where he described the raids as “a long-term operation that’s been going on.”
Albence claimed the operators of the plants, five chicken processing companies in total, could be charged with knowingly hiring illegal resident workers, resulting in peripheral accusations of tax, document, and wage fraud.
The immigration issue has been met with contempt from some of Trump’s fanatic critics, who — with the help of the news media — claim that immigration law enforcement is, in essence, racist.
William Chandler, the current executive director of the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA), was one of those emotionally-driven critics. He classified the ICE operations as “another effort to drive Latinos out of Mississippi.” He is also popular with left-wing news outlets especially when he is blaming Trump directly for inspiring racism.
“This is the same thing that Trump is doing at the border with the Border Patrol,” he alleged.