Mississippi ICE Raids: 680 Detained, 300 Released, Job Fair & Illegal Hiring

Border Patrol, ICE -

Mississippi ICE Raids: 680 Detained, 300 Released, Job Fair & Illegal Hiring

On Wednesday U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted a series of raids at seven plants in six towns. ICE says about 680 workers were initially arrested across all the sites. ICE spokesman Bryan Cox says ICE sent more than 300 of those people home Thursday, with notices to appear before immigration judges.

Federal authorities apparently had a good reason for conducting one of the biggest immigration raids in a decade this past week.

Six of the seven Mississippi food plants that got hit by ICE agents were “willfully and unlawfully employing illegal aliens” including workers wearing electronic monitoring bracelets at work for previous immigration violations, according to unsealed court documents. Many were working under false names and fake Social Security numbers, according to investigators.

Supervisors allegedly turned a blind eye to unlawful practices, such as hiring the same workers repeatedly under various names and not checking whether they had the proper paperwork.

To add insult to injury, some of the plant owners were embezzling money by adding other fake names and social security numbers to their payroll and keeping the cash they purportedly made for themselves, authorities say.

An employee at one plant, owned by PH Food Inc., told Homeland Security investigators that nearly all of its 240 workers in Morton, MS — as well as some 80 employees at an A&B plant in Pelahatchie — had been hired illegally. Many of them were allegedly from Guatemala.

“Food, Inc. and others are willfully and unlawfully employing illegal aliens in violation of Federal Law,” authorities allege in the federal documents.

“The payroll companies, as well as PH Food Inc. and A&B Inc. do not verify the authenticity of their documents,” said one informant.

One of the Mississippi chicken processing plants caught in an immigration raid plans a job fair Monday. Illinois-based Koch (cook) Foods says it will be recruiting new workers for its Morton plant at a state job center in nearby Forest.

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