Wednesday, August 27, 2008

ICE comes to town.

Indeed, yes, lil ole' Laurel, Mississippi was pleased to welcome several helicopters, a bunch of buses and cop cars, and some armed ICE agents this Monday. They swooped down on Howard Industries after a weekend of rumor-flying amongst the immigrant community. By Monday afternoon, word was that some 350 people had been detained. By yesterday (Tuesday), word on the street was up to 600 or so detainees.

Every Mexican restaurant in town is closed, and has been for at least two days. I hear employee attendance at the local chicken processors (Sanderson Farms, Southern Hens, Tyson are all nearby) is very, very low.

Here's a quick hit from Feministing, which reminded me to post about this:

Quick Hit

Local coverage, featuring the least informative slide show in the history of the internet:

Tuesday morning

Local update:

Ripple Effect Continues

Wednesday Morning Update

New local video featuring nearly four minutes with ICE Southern Regional Communications Director Barbara Gonzalez and less than 30 seconds with Pastor Roberto Velez, who has taken on the role of spokesman for the local Latino community:

ICE Raid at Howard Industries

What y'all may not know about the little ol' town of Laurel is that Mexican immigrants have been staffing all of our major industries (Howard plus the chicken plants) for over a decade, and a second wave came in to staff the construction industry after the storm. Best estimates over the last few years are that there are about 2000 Hispanic immigrants in a town of about 20,000 or so. No, I don't have the exact numbers - check with Jones County EDA before you quote me! I've linked to their 2000 census info, but the face of Jones County has changed a lot since then.

Now, this is the part that is totally unsubstantiated, but word on the street is that there were people at HI who actively assisted workers with getting forged papers. People, Laurel is a VERY small town, rumors spread like you wouldn't believe, but I always take them with a grain of salt.

ETA: see, I'm not the only one who heard this rumor!

"But Robert Shaffer of the Mississippi A.F.L.-C.I.O. said it was “common knowledge” that Howard and other area employers “kind of cater to the undocumented workers.”

“You ask anyone in the Laurel-Hattiesburg area,” Mr. Shaffer said."

I note with interest that workers are up in front of judges today, but no one in the Human Resources office seems to be taking a fall. Hm. Interesting, that.

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