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politics

Democrats Decry Immigration Raids Leaving Children Home Alone

Democrats Decry Immigration Raids Leaving Children Home Alone

  • ‘Another form of family separation,’ Mississippi Democrat Says
  • Biden says Trump is stoking fear, is ‘morally unfit’ to lead
Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris Photographer: Elizabeth Frantz/Bloomberg
Kamala Harris
Photographer: Elizabeth Frantz/Bloomberg

Democrats lashed out at the Trump administration over immigration raids in Mississippi that swept up hundreds of food processing workers and left bewildered children returning home from school to find their parents missing.

The raids, the largest workplace immigration sweep in a decade, drew scorn from several Democratic presidential candidates, who’ve vowed to reverse Trump administration policies they say harm immigrant communities, especially children. Front-runner Joe Biden said the enforcement action shows President Donald Trump is “morally unfit” for the office he holds.

Joe Biden Speaks At Iowa Community Event

Joe Biden

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

The reaction mirrored the outrage over the migrant children held in chain-link “cages” at the border and the Trump administration’s policy last year of separating families caught illegally crossing in to the U.S.

The operation took place Wednesday, the same day Trump was visiting the border city of El Paso, Texas, where a gunman massacred 22 people in an attack that appeared to target Latinos. Trump is facing criticism from Democrats that his harsh rhetoric has dehumanized immigrants and contributed to violence against minorities.

While the president “is supposed to be embracing a grieving community and celebrating our American diversity in El Paso, his administration is instead stoking fear by conducting massive immigration raids,” Biden said on Twitter.

‘Disaster of Choice’

Elizabeth Warren tweeted that the arrests “will have devastating effects on the children that are left behind.” Kamala Harris said the raids “are designed to tear families apart, spread fear, and terrorize communities.”

Local and national news broadcast images of children sobbing for their parents. Some of them were sheltered overnight at a local gym.

Representative Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi Democrat who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said the raids “will have an enormous, long-term impact on communities in Mississippi.”

“Now hundreds of children are without parents,” he said in a statement Thursday. “This is another form of family separation - and an unfortunate common thread in this Administration’s cruel immigration policies.”

About 680 immigrant workers at seven Mississippi food processing plants were arrested Wednesday, U.S. authorities said.

Mike Hurst, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, defended the operation and its timing immediately after the El Paso mass shooting.

“While the tragedies this weekend around the country are horrific, this operation had been planned way before that and we intended to carry it out,” Hurst reporters at a news conference.

A spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement said more than 300 of those arrested have been released from custody, the Associated Press reported. Some were given dates to appear in federal immigration courts.

The raids have stoked fear elsewhere, with consequences for food production. Operations have been disrupted across the poultry supply chain, according to Charles Kuck, an Atlanta-based immigration attorney whose clients include Mississippi poultry plants.

“The support industry has had large numbers of people not showing up to work today,” Kuck said.”

— With assistance by Jennifer Kay, Margaret Newkirk, and Michael Hirtzer