An Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raid at a Mississippi food-processing plant earlier this month resulted in 680 workers being detained. Among those was the mother of a newborn who was separated from her daughter who was still breastfeeding.
The mother was arrested at Koch Foods where she had been employed for the past four years. She has been sent to a Louisiana detention facility, away from her four-month-old daughter and two older children. Her husband is currently caring for the kids while he awaits word of whether his wife will be deported or not. He is also facing deportation, but his hearing has been scheduled for 2021, according to the Clarion Ledger.
The father says he has only been able to speak to his wife once since she can’t afford calls from the detention facility. “I will take care of the children and I will find out how the lawyers could help … so don’t worry,” he reportedly told her. “You are not alone.”
The mother was arrested at Koch Foods in Morton during the ICE raids in Mississippi last week. https://t.co/YpaupnhnTj— Clarion Ledger (@clarionledger) August 15, 2019
The raid in Mississippi highlights the trauma that children who are forcibly separated from their parents endure. Many of the kids, who are American citizens, have unknowingly had their loved ones taken away while they were waiting at schools, daycares, and after-school activities to be picked up. The day after the raid, more than 200 students were absent from school, which has created uncertainty among teachers and fellow students.
“The population affected has pulled back,” the superintendent of the Scott County School District, told Buzzfeed News. “It has been tough for our teachers and all of our administrators. We love our kids. They are our kids. When you see kids hurting, you hurt, like when it’s your own children at home.”
The mother of three was visited by Dalila Reynoso, an advocate with Justice For Our Neighbors, who reported that the woman “had this lost look.” Adding, “She hasn’t seen her children. She doesn’t know what tomorrow will bring. Why do we have a mother in a detention center with a baby that’s 4 months old and who is breastfeeding?”
"Why do we have a mother in a detention center with a baby that's 4 months old and who is breastfeeding?" https://t.co/Cll4qcLr8K— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) August 16, 2019
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), head of the House Homeland Security Committee, censured ICE chief Matthew Albence for how the raid was handled, stating, it is “another form of family separation” that is “unacceptable.”
According to Sam R. Hall, executive editor of the Clarion Ledger and Hattiesburg American, undocumented immigrants enter the US illegally because there are jobs, and they are willing to face the threat of arrest and deportation in order to make a better life for themselves.
“If we want to really address the problem, then a path to citizenship is part of the answer. It won’t be without penalties, and it won’t be easy, but it will help create a legal workforce that is already contributing to our communities. It’s better than all the money we are spending on enforcement measures that we repeat ad nauseam,” Hall adds.