A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said that it had released nearly half of the 680 people detained in Wednesday’s massive raid of seven food processing plants in Mississippi.
ICE said that 300 people captured in what it called the largest ever raid in a single state had been released that same day, according to a press release issued Thursday.
Thirty of those released were let go on “humanitarian grounds,” according to the press release issued by ICE and Mike Hurst, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi. That appears to include single parents or one of a set of parents if both were captured in the raid. “Based on these procedures, it is believed that all children were with at least one of their parents as of last night,” the release stated.
Bryan Cox, the ICE spokesman, said all people detained Wednesday were asked if they had children, and those who did were allowed to make calls to ensure their children were picked up from school or otherwise placed in appropriate care for the day.
But according to reports from families and friends of those detained, many children said goodbye to their parents without knowing when they would see them again. Some children without any other family were left without places to go after school. In some cases, neighbors and other community members took children to volunteer-run makeshift shelters. And according to the Mississippi Clarion Ledger, the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services was not alerted to the raids ahead of time and struggled to locate the children and determine their needs.
The remaining 270 people who were released were returned to their workplaces after being processed by Homeland Security. According to the Associated Press, ICE officials had said earlier Wednesday they would release pregnant women or those who had not already faced immigration proceedings.