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Two years since the ICE Raids, immigrant rights advocates still fighting for more protection for immigrant workers

Published: Aug. 9, 2021 at 3:36 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2021 at 5:11 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Many in the immigrant community said there’s still a dark cloud hanging over their head after the raids that happened two years ago.

“Some folks were arrested, put in detention, and are still in detention,” said Cal Soto, Workers Rights Director for The National Day Laborer Organizing Network.

In all, 680 people were detained by the U-S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi, executed multiple federal criminal search warrants for evidence relating to various federal crimes, as well as administrative search warrants searching for individuals illegally present in the United States, at seven sites across the State of Mississippi.

On August 7, the Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity, immigrant rights advocates, and people involved in the raids gathered to speak on what they believe was an act of injustice.

“We’re calling on the government to take action to remedy those wrongs that happened two years ago, but we’re also asking for more focus on the lives of these workers,” said Soto.

Soto said the raids were in retaliation to workers reporting cases about their working conditions.

“Some immigrant workers had already reported extreme labor abuses on the job, discrimination, nonpayment of wages, and health and safety violations.”

Now, he and other advocates are fighting to have new legislation passed on local, state, and federal levels that will offer immigrant workers more protection.

“I would start locally, Soto explained. “I love the idea of having this mayor having the city police chief say, you know what, if you’re a wage thief, you have no place here in this community. You’re breaking up our homes; you’re breaking up our families, so watch yourself. We’re going to be coming after you.”

The raids happened at Peco facilities in Canton, Bay Springs and Sebastopol. It was the largest single-state worksite enforcement operation in the nation’s history.

Members with IAJE plan to have a press conference Monday morning in front of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office in Jackson, in light of what happened two years ago.

“This current administration has a desire to support immigrant workers; we know we’ve heard that,” said Soto. “They have a desire to support workers in general, so we’re hoping we can bring more attention to this.”

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