Some Mississippi children slept in a community gym after their parents were detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Wednesday in what authorities called the “largest single-state immigration enforcement operation” in the country’s history.
ICE arrested roughly 680 undocumented immigrants at seven Mississippi poultry processing plants Wednesday, an ICE spokesperson confirmed to The Hill. The raid was coordinated with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Mississippi.
But some children were left temporarily homeless after their parents were detained, WJTV reported. Children relied on neighbors and strangers to pick them up from school, according to WJTV, and they were taken to a community center.
All of the children were returned to homes Wednesday, according to WJTV reporter Alex Love. Although some are in their original homes, some are staying with relatives until the status of their parents is “sorted out.”
UPDATE: We’ve just gotten word that all the kids have been returned to their original homes, if not temporary ones with distant relatives till this gets fully sorted out. No need to call anymore. We’ll keep up up to date as new details emerge. #FocusedOnYou— Alex Love (@AlexLoveWJTV) August 8, 2019
The children were offered a place to sleep by Clear Creek Boot Camp owner Jordan Barnes, who said he would provide bedding and food for them, as well as transportation to school Wednesday.
“Government please show some heart,” Gregoria, one of the children, cried, WJTV reported. “Let my parent be free.”
“I need my dad and mommy,” she continued. “My dad didn’t do anything, he’s not a criminal.”
Love also tweeted that the children were given food and drinks at the community center donated by community members, but most were too upset to eat.
More images as volunteers try to feed the kids donated food and drinks for dinner tonight. But most children are still devastated and crying for their parents and can’t eat. FULL STORY TONIGHT ON @WJTV. #FocusedOnYou pic.twitter.com/C6uV6A7Lng— Alex Love (@AlexLoveWJTV) August 8, 2019
Local schools were on alert to help the children. Superintendent of the Scott County School District Tony McGee said teachers and other staff were “on standby to help children,” who just returned to school this week from summer vacation, according to the Clarion Ledger.
Three hundred of the 680 people detained Wednesday were released the same day, ICE confirmed to the Clarion Ledger. The agency said everyone taken into custody would be processed, but not all would be permanently detained.
The Hill has reached out to ICE for comment.