A protestor holds a picture of the Statue of Liberty crying, with the word SHAME written across it.

Massive ICE Raids Had Been Planned for Months but No One Thought of What Would Happen to Hundreds of Children?

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Yesterday, ICE agents swept through six cities in Mississippi in a series of targeted raids on agricultural processing plants, arresting approximately 680 people. Per the Washington Post, officials are calling it the “largest single-state workplace enforcement action in U.S. history.”

The raids happened the same day Trump visited El Paso, Texas, where 22 people were murdered this weekend by a white supremacist targeting, according to his own writings, immigrants and Hispanic people.

It was also planned for what was for many, their children’s first day of school. There are videos of children left crying alone after their parents were arrested. There are reports of children coming home from their first day of school to locked doors. According to the Daily Beast, schools have stepped up to make sure those children are safe and cared for. One Superintendent instructed school bus drivers to get a “visual reference to a parent or guardian” before dropping children off in empty homes. Students whose parents had been arrested were bused back to schools where teachers were reportedly taking care of them.

ICE officials have said that these raids had been planned for months. But they apparently didn’t have any sort of plan for what would happen to those children after they separated them from their parents. It’s only due to the kindness of teachers, school administrators, and other volunteers that they’re safe.

Twitter is full of people talking about how they feel sorry for these children but that their parents shouldn’t have committed a crime if they didn’t want this to happen. Obviously, that’s an incredibly callous and privileged response, but it’s also just a total display of ignorance. Crossing the border illegally or overstaying a visa is a misdemeanor crime, and one meant to be handled in immigration court.

Inflicting this level of trauma on children is not proportionate to a misdemeanor offense. (Illegal re-entry is a felony, but those going full Javert on this issue are lumping nearly 700 immigrants together with no regard for the actual crime being committed. Similarly, I would guess these are the same people who refuse to recognize that seeking asylum–and crossing the border outside of a designated point of entry to do so–is not a crime at all.)

ICE has said that these raids focused on immigrants with criminal backgrounds and that the others caught up in the sweep were “collateral” arrests. But nearly 700 people at seven work sites is far too many to reasonably call collateral. This was deliberate.

It’s also telling that the outrage over hundreds of allegedly undocumented immigrants existing in the U.S. seems to far outweigh any anger towards those profiting off of their work.

This most definitely won’t be the last raid of this kind, so whether you’re directly affected by these immigration sweeps or just want to be an informed ally, make sure you know your rights if ever confronted or witnessing someone confronted by ICE (here’s a great resource), as well as the ways in which you can help.

(image: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.