Jackson, Mississippi — On the 3-year mark of the ICE workplace raids in Mississippi, which took place on August 7 2019, the Immigrant Alliance for Justice & Equity of Mississippi (IAJE of MS) released the following statement (more background below), from Executive Director and founder Lorena Quiroz:
“Three years later, the harm caused by ICE’s raids in Mississippi is still felt, in every workplace, in every processing plant, in all of our homes. It’s time for President Biden and DHS Secretary Mayorkas to come face to face with the impact that ICE has had on workers, and to address that harm. This must begin with hearing directly from the workers impacted by ICE’s raids in Mississippi.
“Our message to Secretary Mayorkas is this: Mr. Secretary, workers have shown an incredible amount of courage to denounce workplace abuse, to keep working for our families, despite the threats, the wage theft, and unsafe conditions. Today workers are ready to meet directly with you, to do what we must to confront these harms, and improve workplace rights across Mississippi.
“Mr. Secretary, we need to address these harms. Today, the only message from DHS to immigrants in Mississippi is that ICE will target those who speak out about abuse.”
It has been three years since ICE carried out its mass workplace raids on August 7, 2019, arresting 680 indigenous and immigrant workers, and targeting chicken processing plants where workers had denounced, and EEOC had confirmed, rampant sexual harassment and racial discrimination. DHS acknowledged the raids “were used as a tool by exploitative employers to suppress and retaliate against workers’ assertion of labor laws” (NPR October 2021).
Today, workers are still separated from their families, and many others are still working under the same workplace abuses, with ICE’s threat against workers still looming. Workers with IAJE of MS have called on the US Labor Department and on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to repair the harms caused by the workplace raids, protecting workers who were victims of the raid with deportation forbearance and work authorization.
In the Spring, US Secretary Marty Walsh met directly with Mississippi workers impacted by ICE’ workplace raids. And last month, on July 6 2022, the US Department of Labor announced new guidance for workers who denounce or are victims of workplace abuse to be protected from deportation so they can advance their labor rights. Read the DOL Guidance and workers’ responses here. DHS has yet to announce guidance for such a policy to respect workers’ rights.
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