Just a few days after El Paso suffered an attack targeting the Hispanic community, the Trump administration arrested nearly 700 workers from seven cities, five companies, and six worksites in Mississippi for allegedly being undocumented. UnidosUS has spoken clearly about this issue before: worksite ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids rip families apart and traumatize children, and do little to prevent labor abuses. UnidosUS Affiliates, community-based organizations, and other partners are now working together in Mississippi to help our community get legal representation, food, rental assistance, and more.
Four anchor national organizations are spearheading the efforts to help our community after the largest workplace raid in Mississippi in decades: Faith In Action, NAACP, Advancement Project, and UnidosUS. These organizations did significant work last week and over the weekend traveling between locations, talking to people and finding out what the greatest needs are.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The most immediate needs the community has are:
- Food (canned beans, nut butters, canned fruit and vegetables, soups, rice, etc.), hygiene products (shampoo, conditioner, toilet paper, underwear, socks, diapers, etc.), and school supplies. You can send your donations to:
Trinity United Methodist Mission
430 Hillsboro Street
Forest, MS 39074
Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance
P.O. Box 1104
Jackson, MS 39215
- Mental health counseling for children. If you are interested in offering your services, please fill out this form and we will get in touch with you.
- Immigration lawyers. If you can help, please fill out this form and we will be in touch with you shortly. You can also email MIRA Legal Project Director, Attorney L. Patricia Ice at [email protected] directly.
- Spanish-speaking and Guatemalan indigenous languages translators. If you are able to help, please email Nayely Perez-Huerta with the Southeast Immigrants Rights Network (SEIRN) at [email protected] and she will get in touch with you.
Another way to help the children and families in Mississippi affected by the raids is by donating to these different organizations doing work on the ground, to help families pay for rent, utilities, and bonds whenever possible, as well as helping with logistics and more:
- ACLU of Mississippi
- El Pueblo Mississippi
- MacArthur Justice Center
- Mississippi Center for Justice
- Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA)
- Southeast Immigrant Rigths Network (SEIRN)
- Southern Poverty Law Center
Continue sharing these Know Your Rights flyers with anyone in the community that can benefit from this information.
RESPONSE TO A CRISIS
Bill Chandler is on the other side of the line. He is the Executive Director of MIRA, and he’s had a long-term relationship with UnidosUS, dating back to 1968. He sounds tired: he’s been doing interviews since seven in the morning, and has been non-stop since the raids happened on August 7: “We were very shocked last Wednesday, when it occurred,” he shares. It was the first day of school, and many kids were going to be affected by this, reaffirming Trump’s administration policy on family separation (learn more about this issue in UnidosUS’s White Paper “Beyond the Boarder: Family Separation in the Trump Era”).
The following day, MIRA, NAACP, representatives of civil rights and faith-based organizations, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and others, held a news conference at the NAACP headquarters: “It was a solidarity demonstration by our community, in support of those workers and their families and their kids that were affected by the raids,” Chandler continues.
The whole community has come out to help each other, regardless of race, religion, or socio-economic status. Chandler describes how it was particularly touching seeing Latino, Black, and White neighbors, local business and organizations, Methodist and Catholic churches, ensuring that the children of those affected by the raids were taken care of. Organizations from other states have also come out to Mississippi to offer their support to this community, like UnidosUS Affiliate Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (¡HICA!).
WHERE ARE WE NOW
According to US immigration officials, 300 people have been temporarily released with notices to appear before immigration judges. Many of them have been released because children are in their care. However, as Chandler explains, these parents now cannot work, impeding providing for their families. This is why these organizations are asking for donations (please see above).
Of those still arrested, Chandler informs us that they are in two different ICE detention facilities; however, they are unable to help them because the centers are not releasing their names: it is only when a relative or spouse comes forward that they are able to provide help. And they are ready for when that happens: churches in Canton, Laurel, Forest, Carthage and Morton have offered space to create legal aid centers where volunteer attorneys are guiding those affected by the raids.
MIRA informed in their latest newsletter that: “Workers who were detained and released can show up at those locations to do initial intakes for legal protection, which is a critical first step in what will be a long and complex legal process.” Visit MIRA’s website to find a list of centers offering legal help.
The consequences of these raids are going to be a long-term fight for the community of Mississippi. As Chandler states: “This is only the beginning of the struggle.”