On Wednesday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided multiple food processing plants in Mississippi, arresting and detaining 680 people, in the largest workplace sting in a decade. What’s more is that the raid, which spanned seven cities, five companies, and six work sites, took place on the first day of school, leaving children without their parents or guardians without warning.
"As a father of two young girls, to imagine children arriving after their first day of school to a condition where their parents are gone from their lives, I think that we truly have to question where the soul of our nation is at this point and time," Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba told WJTV, calling the ICE sting "a gross display of humanity.”
About 300 of the arrested workers have since been released, leaving approximately 380 people still in ICE detention. According to Attorney Carlyn Hicks, director at Mission First Legal Aid Office, “some individuals were released last night and outfitted with ankle monitors, others were sent to Louisiana for further detainment.”
Local businesses and organizations responded quickly to assist the children impacted by the massive raid. Ahead, we outline ways you can help the families affected.
Help provide unattended children with housing.
Hicks said that “all impacted children may not be accounted for,” and urged teachers, neighbors, and other community members to call the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services at 1-800-222-8000 if they know of any children left without guardians after the raids. MDCPS has licensed emergency foster homes available for unattended children.
“We have foster homes that have been carefully inspected and licensed, and foster caregivers who have been well-trained and have passed criminal background checks. We know we can provide safe and secure placements and trauma-informed temporary care for these children – but we have not been asked to do so.” Lea Anne Brandon, communications director for MDCPS, said in a statement on Facebook. “Our staff has been up all night trying to find these children to make sure they are safe. We are offering help and are responding to inquiries whenever we receive them.”
Donate food and supplies.
One local business, Clear Creek Boot Camp in Forest, MS, quickly stepped in to provide children with a place to sleep. The gym was also accepting food and supply donations, and a recent update on Twitter indicates the children who were staying at the gym may have all been reunited with their parents at this point. There are still a number of organizations working to support those who've been impacted.
NEW: The owner of a Miss. gym that helped care for kids whose parents had been believed to have been arrested by ICE says that some workers -- mainly women -- have been shuttled back and that ALL of the children who were at his facility have been reunited w/ family members.— Hamed Aleaziz (@Haleaziz) August 8, 2019
The Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, a Jackson-based organization, is collecting donations of food (canned beans, nut butters, canned fruit and vegetables, soups, rice, etc.) and hygiene products (shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, underwear, socks, etc.), which can be dropped off at 4436 N State St Suite A-1, Jackson, MS 39206. The non-profit, which is also seeking monetary donations via GoFundMe.
In Laurel, MS, the Immaculate Conception Church (833 W 6th St, Laurel, MS 39440) is also collecting food and gift card donations to help families affected in Bay Springs, MS.
Rev. C.J. Rhodes of Jackson also posted a long thread on Facebook, providing additional ways to help the families who were impacted by the raids, including fundraisers and local church initiatives that could use support.
Help families with legal services.
A network of community organizations providing legal services, including ACLU Mississippi, El Pueblo Mississippi, MacArthur Justice Center, and more, have banded together to provide an immediate response. They are seeking donations, too.
Help with translation or other support.
Nayely Perez-Huerta with the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network (SEIRN) is seeking volunteer translators. Perez-Huerta, who can also connect immigrants seeking translation help via a hotline, can be reached at email@example.com.
Those who would like to volunteer translation or interpretation services, mental health support, or other forms of direct, on-the-ground support can fill out this form.
And, if you are an undocumented immigrant or someone else in fear of ICE detention, considering U.S. citizens have been detained, remember your rights: