Congressional Hispanic Caucus calls for answers on Mississippi ICE raids

Congressional Hispanic Caucus calls for answers on Mississippi ICE raids
© Greg Nash

Top members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) are demanding answers about the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids of seven Mississippi food-processing plants that led to 680 arrests.  

In a letter sent to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan and ICE acting Director Mark Morgan on Monday, the lawmakers said the timing of the raids left communities in chaos and argued the agencies left children at risk by failing to provide sufficient warning to school districts.

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“This raid, which is the largest ICE raid in our nation’s history, is a continuation of the Trump Administration’s politically driven immigration agenda and efforts to target Latino families. It is also not lost on us that this operation occurred just days after one of the most horrific mass shooting targeting Latinos in America,” they wrote. 

The raids took place Wednesday, less than a week after a gunman killed 22 people in a mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, that officials said targeted the Hispanic community. McAleenan said Sunday the timing was "unfortunate," but added, "This is a criminal investigation with 14 federal warrants issue by a judge. ICE had to follow through with it. It was already planned and in motion." 

“Acting Secretary McAleenan, your recent statement noting that timing of these actions ‘was unfortunate’ is a significant understatement that does not convey the pain many in our communities are experiencing now,” members wrote.

The CHC effort was led by Chairman Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroThe Hill's Campaign Report: Impeachment fight to take center stage at Dem debate The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising Joaquin Castro volunteers to play his brother on 'SNL' MORE (D-Texas) and the letter was also signed by Reps. Ruben GallegoRuben GallegoOvernight Energy: Trump administration issues plan to reverse limits on logging in Tongass National Forest| Democrats inch closer to issuing subpoenas for Interior, EPA records| Trump's plan to boost ethanol miffs corn groups and the fossil fuel industry Trump administration issues plan to reverse limits on logging in Tongass National Forest 2020 Democrats raise alarm about China's intellectual property theft MORE (D-Ariz.), Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Adriano EspaillatAdriano de Jesus Espaillat CabralDemocrats plow ahead as Trump seeks to hobble impeachment effort Lawmakers mourn death of 'Julia' star Diahann Carroll Democrats rally behind incumbents as Lipinski takes liberal fire MORE (D-N.Y.) and Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarLawmakers, social media users praise photo of Pelosi confronting Trump Hispanic voters push campaigns to address gun violence Trump impeachment calls snowball, putting pressure on Pelosi MORE (D-Texas).

The group noted they voiced concerns over the administration’s announcement last month it planned to move forward with immigration raids, adding they believe they can lead to “inhumane family separations” and anxieties for both migrants and U.S. citizens. 

 “ICE raids of this scale are not conducted for the purpose of immigration enforcement; instead, their purpose is to instill fear in Latino and immigrant communities at a time when Latinos are already living in terror. These workplace raids decimate communities and target law-abiding immigrants who are just trying to earn an honest living,” they continued.  

“Indeed the law enforcement effectiveness of mass-raid events like these have long been questioned. Instead of targeting undocumented workers with long-standing ties to communities, the Department of Homeland Security should use its resources to target nefarious and serious national security and public safety threats." 

The lawmakers are asking the agencies to provide information on the costs and source of funding for the raids and the preceding investigation; whether the funding from the recently passed DHS supplemental appropriation bill is expected to be used toward “any ICE worksite enforcement investigation and operation (including the one in Mississippi) planned for or ongoing as of July 1, 2019;” and the personal information of individuals taken into custody on Aug. 7.

Other questions include descriptions of any ICE requests “for assistance or support for at-large enforcement operations” from state and local law enforcement or additional agencies for the raid in Mississippi and what plans have been made to house detainees and whether there is a process in place to verify the conditions of temporary facilities. 

The lawmakers are calling for the information to be provided by Aug. 30.