Authorities defend Mississippi ICE raids: 'Textbook operation'

Authorities defend Mississippi ICE raids: 'Textbook operation'
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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is defending its agents' involvement in raids at Mississippi food processing plants on Wednesday after facing backlash for reports of children left without their parents following the mass arrests.

Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence told The Washington Post that Wednesday's raids, which resulted in nearly 700 arrests of immigrants suspected to not have legal status, were part of a "textbook operation."

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"This was a textbook operation, carried out in a safe manner, and done securely,” Albence said. “Officers were able to execute these warrants in a safe fashion.”

Jerome Miles, ICE's special agent in charge of its New Orleans office of the Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) unit, told the Post that officials were careful to ensure no children were left in vulnerable circumstances. Miles's unit ran Wednesday's ICE raids.

But he said that, despite notifying schools of the raids and giving those who were detained access to phones, agents could not guarantee that no children were left without parents or legal guardians when they returned home Wednesday evening.

“To be able to tell you, absolutely, there is no single parent, with no one to take care of [a child], I don’t think I can say that,” Miles told the Post.

While their parents were detained, numerous children were reportedly left temporarily homeless and made to sleep in a community gym, although all were reportedly returned to either their homes or those of relatives by Wednesday night.

According to the Post, the White House was not told of the operation before it began so as not to disrupt the procedure. The paper noted that ICE funneled in 600 agents to Mississippi, many from other parts of the country.

Three hundred of the 680 people detained by ICE were released later Wednesday, according to the agency, after it was determined they were not a threat to the public. A U.S. attorney told the Post that many of those released by ICE agents following the raid were driven back to their workplace in order to prevent them from being stranded.

“This is the only operation I am aware where … those released are actually taken back to their original point of detention so they are not stuck 60, 70 miles away,” Mississippi U.S. attorney D. Michael Hurst Jr. said.

The raids were sharply criticized by groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which accused ICE of separating families and disrupting the state's economy.

According the the Post, many of those arrested were the primary wage earners for their families.

“We are deeply concerned that the raids have separated Mississippians’ families, disrupted our local economy, and diverted our state’s limited resources to support Trump’s mass deportation agenda,” ACLU of Mississippi Legal Director and interim executive director Joshua Tom said.

“Local law enforcement should refuse to cooperate with the president’s anti-immigrant policies. We stand in solidarity and are committed to help the families harmed,” he added.