Agents from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement arrested about 680 undocumented workers, predominantly Hispanic, at seven different food processing plants in the state of Mississippi. The cities affected by the raids include Canton, Pelahatchie, Carthage, Walnut Grove, Morton and Bay Springs. Several of the processing facilities were chicken plants, including ones owned by Koch Foods and Peco Foods.
Peco Foods confirmed that three of its facilities in Canton, Bay Springs and Sebastopol were raided. Koch Foods said that its processing plant in Morton was raided. PH Food Inc. in Morton; MP Food Inc. in Pelahatchie and Pearl River Foods Inc. in Carthage were the other plants involved, according to AP reports.
"We are fully cooperating with the authorities in their investigation and are navigating a potential disruption of operations," Peco, based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said in a statement. The company added that it participates in E-Verify, a government program to screen new hires for immigration status.
The Clarion Ledger reports that Bryan Cox, ICE spokesperson, said everyone taken into custody and detained Wednesday will be processed but "not everyone is going to be (permanently) detained." By Wednesday night, some detainees had already been released.
In the aftermath of the raids, many children were left without parents and legal guardians. It was the first day of school in Forest, Miss., and several children had nobody to pick them up at the end of the school day. Community leaders in Forest gathered the children to a community gym, where there were beds and donated food available. WJTV, which reported the news, noted that many of the children were too distraught to eat and cried.