U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Wednesday arrested 680 workers at seven food processing plants in Mississippi, marking what may be the largest workplace raid in more than a decade, according to the Associated Press.
According to the AP, 600 agents were involved in the raids, which occurred in plants in small towns and with largely immigrant workforces. Different companies were targeted, and the raids had been planned for months, according to ICE.
USA Today described scenes in which long lines of immigrant workers were led onto buses, as crowds of family members protested nearby or waved tearful goodbyes. Some of the buses took the detained workers, with wrists tied, to airplane hangars to be processed for immigration violations.
Matthew Albence, ICE’s acting director, told the AP that the raids could be the largest workplace operation in over a decade and the largest ever in any single state. Large raids, standard under President George W. Bush, were largely halted under President Obama. Even under President Trump, who has been zealous about immigration arrests, these kinds of raids have been rare, given the time and financial resources necessary.
The raids came on the same day Trump visited El Paso, a city reeling from mass violence at the hands of a gunman apparently animated by racial hatred. The suspected gunman reportedly wrote a white supremacist manifesto fixated on Hispanic immigrants, before shooting and killing 22 people.