One of the many consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic is that everyone has become much more aware of the food supply chain—and meat-packing and processing plants are at the center of that chain. Some plants have seen COVID-19 outbreaks, and some have even had to shut down. Employees at meat-packing plants were declared essential workers, and many of these essential workers are Latinx.

There are about fifty chicken-processing plants in the state of Mississippi. They provide a much-needed food supply to the country and beyond, but staffing these places is not easy. Over the decades, many locals have turned to other, less onerous jobs. And that’s why the industry is a hub for immigrant workers, many of whom are undocumented.

On August 7, 2019, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents arrived at seven chicken processing plants in central Mississippi and arrested 680 workers. Many of them were fathers and mothers whose kids were left behind for days, weeks, or even months.

Today, many families are still dealing with the consequences of those arrests. They remain unable to work, as they grapple with traumatic psychological repercussions. Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa and Miguel Macias traveled to the heart of Mississippi to hear about the long term effects of the largest immigration raid in U.S. history.

Featured illustration by Alex Charner. 

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One thought on “After The Mississippi Raids

  1. I greatly appreciated this show bringing a humane perspective to the families that are buffeted by our immigration rules.

    However, I would like to suggest that you do a segment on the illegal employers who knowingly recruit and hire undocumented workers but never face prosecution or even criticism for their actions. Immigrant workers are here ONLY because employers are dead set on paying excessively low wages.

    There are no jobs “that Americans won’t do.” There are only jobs that employers will not pay high enough wages to attract employees. Consequently, immigrants trapped in a system that abuses them and forces them to live in fear and poverty.

    The solution to our need for agricultural workers is not a wall and employers who commit crimes by knowingly employing workers with forged documents or no documents at all. We need immigration reform that allows ample legal access to for the immigrants that American employers (like our President) prefer to hire.

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