JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on immigration raids in Mississippi (all times local):
One of the Mississippi chicken processing plants caught in an immigration raid plans a job fair Monday.
Illinois-based Koch (cook) Foods says it will be recruiting new workers for its Morton plant at a state job center in nearby Forest.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it arrested about 243 workers in Morton on Wednesday, one of a series of raids at seven plants in six towns. More workers were arrested at Koch than at any other plant. ICE says about 680 workers were arrested across all the sites.
Federal officials allege Koch was one of four companies “willfully and unlawfully” employing people who lack authorization to work in the U.S.
Koch, based near Chicago, said Thursday that it relies on the E-Verify program to check new hires for immigration status. Koch says it’s cooperating with the investigation and is “diligent” in complying with employment laws.
Three Democratic congressmen are demanding that the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice produce documents related to immigration raids at seven Mississippi chicken processing plants.
They want Attorney General Bill Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan to detail the cost of raids that initially detained 680 people and whether employers face criminal charges. They also want to know whether any U.S. citizens were detained, how many parents were separated from children, whether any still remain separated.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi made the demand Friday, along with House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings of Maryland and House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Chairman Jamie Raskin of Maryland.
The three question the raid at Koch Foods in Morton.
Federal officials say evidence from electronic monitoring bracelets shows that people who already had been arrested for immigration violations and weren’t allowed to work in the United States were working at all seven chicken processing plants that were raided Wednesday in Mississippi.
Documents unsealed Thursday in federal court also suggest allege six of seven the plants were “willfully and unlawfully” employing people who lacked authorization to work in the United States.
The sworn statements supported the search warrants that led a judge to authorize Wednesday’s raids, and aren’t court charges.
They allege that managers at two processing plants owned by the same Chinese man appeared to be actively participating in fraud. They also show that supervisors at other plants at least turned a blind eye to evidence strongly suggesting job applicants were using fraudulent documents and stolen or made-up Social Security numbers.
The largest immigration raid in at least a decade is likely to ripple for years through six Mississippi small towns that host poultry plants.
A store owner who caters to Latino poultry plant workers fears he’ll have to close. A school superintendent is trying to rebuild trust with the Spanish-speaking community. And the CEO of a local bank says the effects are likely to touch every business in town.
People are beginning to think about those consequences after Wednesday’s raids, in which 680 people were initially detained.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox says ICE sent more than 300 of those people home Thursday, with notices to appear before immigration judges.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant tweeted that anyone in the country illegally has to “bear the responsibility of that federal violation.”