Mississippi Worksite Raids Leave Hundreds of Children Stranded Without Parents and Raise Concerns About ICE Policy

Yesterday’s news of a series of worksite raids in Mississippi, resulting in the arrest of nearly 700 individuals is one of the largest operations of its kind in nearly a decade. Reports said with the arrests of parents and family members many children were left stranded when they arrived home from school. Educators and other volunteers in the communities around the food processing plants were left to devise emergency plans to shelter children with nowhere to go. This crisis was worsened by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seemingly not adhering to their own guidelines to lessen impacts on children by notifying social service agencies in advance of worksite actions.

The following statement can be attributed to Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy.

We are outraged that the Trump Administration continues to carry out heartless attacks against immigrant families, on a day that our country is in mourning after a weekend of violence and devastation.  Yesterday, those raids forced hundreds of Mississippi children to face what they feared most: coming home to an empty house and not knowing if they will ever see their mom or dad again. And it is especially reprehensible that these children had to live through this nightmare on their first day of school. Research tells us that children suffer long-term developmental harm to their health and well-being as a result of the trauma and instability caused by large-scale raids that separate them from parents and loved ones. Raids leave schools, child care centers, and other providers scrambling to deal with the aftermath of these man-made disasters, and the fear created extends far beyond the individuals and families impacted. 

We also are deeply troubled that ICE appears to no longer be fully implementing its own guidelines, which were created in 2007, under the Bush Administration, specifically to mitigate the harm of worksite raids on children and communities. These guidelines include timely release of certain vulnerable populations, including sole caretakers of minor children, and advance notification of worksite actions to local social service agencies. It is irresponsible and reckless to carry out such massive operations without taking every possible step to ensure that children are not unnecessarily terrorized and separated from their parents and that social service agencies are not carrying the burden of response alone.

We condemn these raids, which are part of the Trump Administration’s larger agenda of attacking immigrants, people of color, and children. We are committed to fighting back against these attacks, supporting those impacted, and documenting the harm of Trump’s immigration policies on our nation’s children.