MORTON, Miss. — Mississippi residents rallied around terrified children left with no parents and migrants locked themselves in their homes for fear of being arrested Thursday, a day after the United States’ largest immigration raid in a decade.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said 680 people were arrested in Wednesday’s raids, but more than 300 had been released by Thursday morning, ICE spokesman Bryan Cox said in an email.

Cox said 30 of those who had been released were let go at the plants, while about 270 were released after being taken to a military hangar where they had been brought after the raids. He did not give a reason except to say that those released at the plants were let go due to “humanitarian factors.”

“They were placed into proceedings before the federal immigration courts and will have their day in court at a later date,” he said. Officials had said Wednesday that they would release detainees who met certain conditions, such as pregnant women or those who hadn’t faced immigration proceedings previously.

A small group seeking information about immigrants caught up in the raids gathered Thursday morning outside one of the targeted companies: the Koch Foods Inc. plant in Morton, a small town of roughly 3,000 people about 40 miles east of the capital of Jackson.

“The children are scared,” said Ronaldo Tomas, who identified himself as a worker at another Koch Foods plant in town that wasn’t raided. Tomas, speaking in Spanish, said he has a cousin with two children who was detained in one of the raids.

Gabriela Rosales, a six-year resident of Morton who knows some of those detained, said she understood that “there’s a process and a law” for those living in the country illegally. “But the thing that they [ICE] did is devastating,” she said. “It was very devastating to see all those kids crying, having seen their parents for the last time.”

On Wednesday, about 600 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents fanned out across plants operated by five companies, surrounding the perimeters to prevent workers from fleeing. Those arrested were taken to the military hangar to be processed for immigration violations.

In Morton, workers were loaded into multiple buses on Wednesday —some for men and some for women — at the Koch Foods plant. At one point, about 70 family, friends and residents waved goodbye and shouted, “Let them go! Let them go!”

A tearful 13-year-old boy whose parents are from Guatemala waved goodbye to his mother, a Koch worker, as he stood beside his father. Some employees tried to flee on foot but were captured in the parking lot.

Karla Vazquez-Elmore, a lawyer representing arrested workers, said even those not arrested were terrified.

The Rev. Mike O’Brien, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Canton, said he waited outside the Peco Foods plant in the city until 4 a.m. Thursday for workers returning by bus. O’Brien said he visited a number of parishioners whose relatives had been arrested, including a 65-year-old grandmother. He said he also drove home a person who had hidden from authorities inside the plant. “The people are all afraid,” he said. “Their doors are locked, and they won’t answer their doors.”

Children whose parents were detained were being cared for by other family members and friends, Obrien said.

“They’re circling the wagons that way and taking care of each other,” he said.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(21) comments


The parents of these children ought to be horsewhipped for bringing them here w/o permission but apparently they don't care enough to attempt to immigrate within our laws and the same to the citizen lefties


Jersey, this is a despicable comment.


You are Despicable. Calling names with people you don't agree.

I'm a first generation immigrant that means I was not born in American. I am a citizen and the process took years it was hard .

I will not be told to sit down and shut up by anyone. Not a Chicano not a Liberal no one.

Grow up . You just look like a child . You don't look like the adult you imagine in your head when you spout off.


If you notice Capitano, I did not insult HER personally, rather, I said her COMMENT was despicable. See the difference? You called ME despicable, not what I said. See the difference? Did anyone here tell you to sit down and shut up? I certainly did not, yet your wrath is directed at me, the grandson of Greek and Italian immigrants. There is a way to disagree with the message but not insult the messenger. I do not know whether or not Jersey is a despicable person or not, but to me her comment was downright despicable. As for your last comment, I don't get that at all...Peace


Republicans believe Liberals caring about non white children is unAmerican


Get over it become a US citizen or pack up and leave we don't need to support ILLEGALS think of our elderly who have paid taxes all their lives and barely surviving, if you don't like it pack and go with them


whatever you say, tough guy.


Do some research before you speak, Jeepers. These people pay taxes and contribute to social security that they will never collect. While many of these folks get paid under the table,many also pay their fair share in taxes. All of these people contribute to local economies as well, by being consumers, supplying services and this equates to improving local and state economies. Do you think that the 630 people who were arrested in the raid get envelopes with cash in them each week? They get paychecks and deductions are taken from them just like anyone else who gets paid each week. This is written from an "elderly" who has paid his taxes all his life.


This is written from an "elderly" who has paid his taxes all his life.

You may have payed your taxed on threat of jail but It is clear you understand nothing about economics. And I gather you refuse to educate yourself. Perfect. Keep repeating Talking Points.....doesn't even matter which side as long as you don't have to think or do any research yourself.


President Trump is the MAN


he's a grifter, a con man, a cheat, a liar, a draft dodger. but more power to you if that's what you look for in a 'man'.


He is the man who reputedly did not pay taxes in 18 years


“Reputedly,” as in Lame Stream Media lie no doubt.


like being a five time draft dodger. for that group, it's a quality.


Except he didn't....hey at least killary dodged sniper fire....oh wait.


he did not have five deferments? you need to pull your head out of the sand.


how sound like hillary who just loves to put groups of people in specific boxes...


what did i write that was not true? you sound like the typical sycophant. all the proof in the world and yet you choose to ignore it. sad.


No we know you care more about illegal aliens than your own fellow citizens.


What ever you say, skippy.


This has nothing to do with skin colour. Only you are obssessed with it ?

There is a legal process to Emigrate to America.

Koch Foods and the workers thought it was no big deal they needed a job and Meat needed to be processed. Black white Purple this is wrong.

You really do not understand the concept or you hate laws ? Which is it ?

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