Skip to content
November 07, 2019

Trump still owes us answers on Mississippi ICE raids, lack of business prosecutions

It has been three months since the massive Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Mississippi, and the Trump administration has yet to answer key questions on its planning, timing, and scope.

By all accounts, the Aug. 7 raids were an excessive show of force that upended communities across Mississippi and took parents away from their children. ICE has only targeted workers — rather than employers — for prosecution.

Worse yet, these raids focused on the same community — Latinos — that were targeted just days before when a white supremacist domestic terrorist entered an El Paso Walmart and killed 22 people. Department of Homeland Security officials claimed the coincidence of these two events was ‘unfortunate,’ but the evidence shows much more went wrong that day. 

Trump administration failed children of ICE detainees

According to administration officials, the Aug. 7 ICE raids were planned for over a year with hundreds of officers and agents on the case. These raids were clearly expensive and resource-intensive. ICE should have been aware of obvious need for contingencies for such a large and complex operation. However, it was clear just hours after the raids that ICE did not follow its own guidelines to minimize the negative impact on children and the community.

In previous administrations, ICE followed guidelines to contact the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or state social service agencies before large immigration operations to minimize harmful repercussions and ensure affected children are taken care of. Missing this critical step, Mississippi schools and local communities were left scrambling to help children whose parents had been swept up. ICE never even contacted the necessary officials after the raids were completed either.

On Aug. 7, dozens of children went home to find one or both of their parents — their primary caregivers — nowhere to be found. Others were left at schools or daycare centers. Adding to the chaos, the raids took place on the first day of school when many children were already in a new environment. Fearing for their families’ safety, numerous children did not go back to school the next day.

This community breakdown was entirely predictable — a similar raid took place in Tennessee in April 2018. Parents there were also arrested, and, in fear, hundreds of children did not return to school the next day.

To be clear, these parents were far from being hardened criminals or a public safety hazard. They were hardworking folks trying to feed their families. Taking parents away from their children has been an all too common thread in the immigration policies of this Administration.

This, unfortunately, is just child separation in a different form. ICE should have taken simple steps to communicate with school districts and local officials to avoid this debacle.

Trump administration still has not prosecuted employers from Mississippi ICE raids

The administration clearly only targeted the workers in this raid rather than the employers. Evidence shows that company officials knew that the contractor that managed the plants repeatedly hired undocumented workers. Yet months later, no company officials have been charged.

Koch Foods, which runs some of the plants in Mississippi, is a known repeat offender. Instead of going after employers, as previous administrations have, the Trump administration went after the most vulnerable.

In fact, according to the Corporate Prosecution Registry, enforcement actions against companies has slowed under the Trump administration compared to the Obama administration. There have been only a handful of actions against employers or managers, and prosecution of employers is not only rare, it usually leads to token punishment or simple fines.

Trump administration officials say they will ensure cases are thoroughly prosecuted, but so far that has just been empty rhetoric.

This lack of prosecution of employers is even more glaring when confronted by numerous news reports over the past two years indicating that President Trump’s own companies have routinely hired undocumented workers for decades — and there is no evidence that Trump or his properties have faced any kind of prosecution or penalty.

Apparently, President Trump’s tough talk on immigration enforcement does not apply to him or his corporate friends.

The Aug. 7 raids will have an enormous, long-term negative impact on Mississippi, and we deserve answers on how the administration is — or is not — following the law.

President Trump must understand the very real consequences of his immigration policies, particularly on children.

How we treat the most vulnerable is a direct reflection of who we are as a country, and the ICE raid on Mississippi communities should be beneath us all.

#  #  #

By:  Chairman Bennie G. Thompson
Source: The Clarion-Ledger