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New report details aftermath of 2019 Mississippi ICE raids

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Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 6:31 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Two years after 680 immigrants were arrested at poultry plants in Central Mississippi, the Mississippi Center for Justice released a new report about the people who were detained.

The report states that 230 people arrested in the raids have been removed due to prior immigration orders or other causes.

“This is either because they have a final removal order because they lost their cases from detention or they chose to leave the United States through voluntary departure,” Director of Immigration Law Amelia McGowan said.

The report states that about 400 people await their hearings. McGowan says that with 1.3 million cases on backlog throughout the nation, it could be years before some people are heard in court.

“In the meantime, people who are waiting, many don’t have access to work permits. Many don’t have jobs. Many have suffered from COVID,” she said.

However, McGowan says she’s heard of at least 10 people who were able to find relief from their cases.

“Many of them got a form of relief called, ‘cancellation of removal.’ Basically, that’s for people who have been in the U.S. for 10 years or longer, which many ICE raid victims had been. (They) had to have good character and have a U.S. citizen who is an immediate relative who would suffer extreme hardship if they were deported,” she said.

The anniversary of the raids has caught the eyes of many local immigration advocacy groups and even a national Latino civil rights organization, UnidosUS.

“For me what made this especially cruel was, we can’t forget, this was happening around the first day of school for many kids,” Director of the Immigration Policy Project Carlos Guevara said. “I can imagine in that there was, in that moment, utter confusion, chaos, fear.”

Guevara thinks back to the children who came back home from school to the news that their family members had been arrested. He calls for more acceptance in Mississippi for immigrant communities, especially those who work in essential roles in our communities.

“It’s not that we underappreciate them but we are systematically attacking them through this show of force that is counterproductive,” he said. “Few if any folks have criminal backgrounds. Many folks are trying to raise families, serving their communities.”

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