ICE Agents Detain 680 Illegal Immigrants Working in Mississippi

By Samuel Allegri

The largest single state immigration enforcement operation in the U.S. history took place on Aug. 7.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested roughly 680 illegal immigrants at seven poultry processing factories in Mississippi.

“In what is believed to be the largest single-state immigration enforcement operation in our nation’s history, today at seven sites… ICE HSI (Homeland Security Investigation) special agents executed administrative and criminal search warrants resulting in the detention of approximately 680 illegal aliens,” said Mike Hurst, Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, reported The Hill.

“The arrests today were part of a year-long investigation,” ICE Acting Director Matt Albence added.

The detained employees at the Koch Foods plant in Morton, Mississippi, were boarded on three buses and taken to Mississippi National Guard base, reported the Associated Press.

ICE agents searched the plant, asking employees for identification. The ones who were unable to prove they are legal residents were detained and the ones who had their papers in order were released after their lockers were checked.

It is not yet known what criminal activities prompted the federal criminal warrant and the involvement of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Generally, immigration violations are civil law issues and are not bound by criminal warrants.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents are executing federal search warrants today at multiple locations across the state of Mississippi as part of a coordinated operation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi pursuant to ongoing HSI criminal and administrative investigations,” ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said in an email, according to The Hill.

ICE published on Twitter a series of posts related to the criminal prosecution operation.

“ICE HSI is responsible for upholding the laws established by Congress to include the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which requires employers to verify the ID & work eligibility of all individuals they hire,” read one of the social media posts.

The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on Nov. 6, 1986, making knowingly hiring of illegal immigrants penalizable by financial and other penalties. The act also legalized most undocumented immigrants that came to the United States before Jan. 1, 1982.