Nearly 700 undocumented immigrants rounded up in southern Mississippi

MISSISSIPPI – Law enforcement personnel and ICE Homeland Security Investigations officials rounded up nearly 700 undocumented immigrants in a massive enforcement sweep across six Mississippi cities today.

US Attorney Mike Hurst announced the results of the operation at a news conference this afternoon.

“Today, at seven sites in six different cities around the southern district of Mississippi, HSI Special Agents executed administrative and criminal search warrants resulting in the detention of approximately 680 illegal aliens,” Hurst said.

The operation is thought to be the largest single-day roundup in a single state in the history of the country.

The United States is a nation of immigrants, Hurst said, but it is also a nation of laws.

“The rule of law is the bedrock, the very foundation of our great country,” he said. “Without law, there is no order. Without the enforcement of law, there is no justice.”

However, the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ) called the sweep a “campaign of terrorizing immigrant communities.”

According to a statement released by NOWCRJ, arresting “parents on the first day of school does not make us safer.” Other social rights leaders said many children of those undocumented immigrants will come home from school to find parents missing– parents who are often the sole breadwinner for the families.

Illegal immigrants were not the only targets of the sweep.

“To those who use illegal aliens for a competitive advantage, or to make a quick buck, we have something to say to you,” Hurst said.  “If we find that you have violated Federal criminal law, we’re coming for you.”

Although Hurst did not specify which employers – if any- were arrested along with the immigrants, a series of tweets posted on the official ICE twitter account touted its workplace enforcement approach.

“By eliminating the ability of an illegal alien to obtain employment in the U.S. we will reduce the pull factor of illegal employment and reduce the flow of illegal aliens to our borders,” reads the statement. “ICE HSI’s worksite enforcement program is a key element in deterring illegal immigration to the US, since the vast majority of illegal aliens will attempt to gain employment after they arrive and embed in the US.”

On the contrary, the NOWCRJ said today’s raids “will fuel labor abuses, human trafficking, and a race to the bottom for workers’ rights.”

If you have a friend or family member who you think may have been taken into ICE custody during the operation, call 1-855-479-0502.

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