Reece: ICE raids hit home in Mississippi


U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement [Public domain]

680 migrant workers were detained in Mississippi during a raid on food processing plants.

Davan Reece, Managing Editor

The first day of school is traumatic for any child. Gone are the days of long summer nights and sleeping in late on a Tuesday afternoon. Instead, you have to pick out the best outfit to impress your peers as you wave goodbye to your parents and venture into the halls, whether you are ready for the new school year or not. In short, the start of a new school year can be Hell, but it was even worse for numerous students across the state as 680 undocumented immigrants were detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

It is also interesting to note that no CEO or corporation was prosecuted for the hiring of illegal immigrants.

This raid comes at a trying time in America’s immigration debate. President Trump has chosen a hardline stance on immigration since his campaign kicked off in 2015, citing the need for the construction of a border wall and threats of mass deportation around the country. On the other side of the political aisle, 2020 Democratic presidential candidates such as Senator Elizabeth Warren have proposed the ideas of decriminalizing illegal immigration and banning the use of detainment centers along the southern border.

Shortly after the alleged illegal immigrants were detained at various food processing plants across Mississippi, news reports came in of families being separated as schools around the state began their first day of class. This stands in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s “Zero Tolerance Family Separation” policy, which was put in place after numerous accounts of migrant children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The illegal immigration debate has come down to two simple arguments: security versus sympathy. One of President Trump’s biggest campaign policies was securing the border and deporting illegal immigrants that were stealing American jobs and government money, characterizing them as gang members and drug dealers.

The ICE raids are obviously horrible, causing indescribable grief among families and children, but they were completely legal and within ICE’s power.

The most heartbreaking fact about the raids is the simple truth that the hundreds of workers that were detained did in fact break the law and faced the legal punishments that followed the detainment. I don’t argue with the fact that they came into a country and broke that country’s law and should reap the consequences of breaking that law. Instead, I argue that this shouldn’t have been the law to begin with.

To immigrate into the U.S., potential citizens must first apply for an immigrant visa through four possible channels. These channels are family reunification visas, long-term work visas, diversity visas and refugee visas. The long-term work visas are usually saved for people applying that are “persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, etc.” Diversity visas are randomly selected from a group of 50,000 immigrants looking to migrate to the U.S. For the refugee visa program, you must prove that you are a persecuted group that is at risk of danger due to race, religion, sex or political opinion, among others. However, Latin American refugees are capped at 1,500.

With all these limits put on the visa program, it leaves only one option for most potential citizens: asylum. However, to apply for asylum, you have to be in America on American soil, but this obviously becomes difficult when you are arrested and detained at the border and possibly separated from your parents or children.

You cannot deny that a majority of the people are coming here searching for a better life for themselves and their families, and the road to immigration is very narrow. We have a country with the resources and the opportunity. We were built on the very foundation of immigration and the basic human right of the pursuit of happiness.

The system is quite obviously built to be difficult to get into America, and even if you were to receive a visa, the road to citizenship takes years. As a Caucasian male born and raised in the continental U.S., this plight is not known to me, but it is quite obvious to anyone that there is a major humanitarian crisis occurring in our country now, and it falls on us to fix the broken immigration system.

Six-hundred and eighty workers were detained in our state. These workers were contributing to society and working towards a greater good. They were snatched from their families in our backyard because of unfair and un-American policies. Though devastating, the raids have given us the microphone to bring meaningful change.


Correction: In the final paragraph of the article, it was said that the workers were deported instead of detained as said at the beginning of the article. Some aliens were subsequently released by ICE following the raid, however, Mississippi’s Division of Child Protection Services were receiving calls of unaccompanied children in the days following the raid.