BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers in Louisiana are housing detainees from the largest single-state worksite enforcement operation in the nation’s history. The raids took place at seven food processing plants in Mississippi on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019.
An ICE spokesman told WAFB on Sunday, August 11 that detainees from the raid were transported to La Salle Detention Facility, located just north of Jena in La Salle Parish, and South Louisiana ICE Processing Center, located in Basile in Acadia Parish. Some detainees are being held at the Adams County Correctional Facility in Mississippi.
Those detained were interviewed, fingerprinted and photographed by ICE agents.
In addition to identifying the locations in Louisiana where detainees were transported, the spokesman released a scathing statement targeted at critics of ICE’s enforcement practices. Some of those critics have planned demonstrations in aftermath of the raid, including one which took place in New York City Saturday, August 10 in which protesters partially blocked a highway.
“Let me be clear: these persons are protesting based upon incomplete information and/or rumors,” said Southern Region Communications Director Bryan Cox. “The only reason there may be any confusion about what took place Wednesday would be because there are those who’ve ignored and/or misrepresented comments made by this agency and the U.S. Attorney to advance a false narrative."
Cox went further to say ICE was participating in the raid as part of a larger ongoing criminal investigation which included cases of identity theft where workers were allegedly employed by using stolen identities of U.S. citizens. Cox says ignoring that context while heightening the perception of the raid through the “lens of immigration” would “create an incomplete and inaccurate picture as to what took place.”
HOW ICE SAYS IT ADDRESSED CHILDREN WHOSE PARENTS WERE DETAINED:
- Cox said in a statement Sunday that every child who had two parents arrested during the raid, had one parent released within 24 hours “due to humanitarian reasons.”
- ICE expedited the processing of adults who identified that they had a child in need of care, Cox said.
- ICE coordinated “extensively” through school liaison officers in Mississippi to ensure agents identified parents and children impacted by the raids, according to Cox.
“There are countless children across Louisiana and Mississippi who have a parent currently incarcerated due to their parent being arrested for breaking the law. The reality is adults with children are arrested everyday — and every arrest by any law enforcement agency, by definition, “separates” a person from their family. The use of sensationalist language applied to ICE arrests — and only ICE arrests — only fuels misinformation and is an unfair double standard,” Cox stated.
HOW THE NUMBERS BROKE DOWN:
- 680 people were arrested in total
- 303 of those people were released. Of the 303 people released, 32 were not transported to the processing center. Another 271 were released from custody and transported back to the locations where they were initially arrested. They did not have to procure transportation to get themselves back, according to Cox.
- 377 people remain in ICE custody and are currently at facilities in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Cox was unable to provide a specific number of detainees currently being housed at Louisiana facilities.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT:
Cox said ICE’s enforcement process is similar to the process other law enforcement agencies use. Investigators first use available information to make a custody determination. Some remain in custody, others are released.
“In general, ICE makes custody determinations on a case-by-case basis based on the totality of the circumstances and this operation was no different. Persons arrested are subsequently evaluated for a custody determination, and evaluation of their case specifics determines if they may be detained, released subject to monitoring, released on their own recognizance, etc., pending their court date,” said Cox.
Before being released, each detainee is placed into removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts where they are presented with a charging document that will require them to appear in court at a later date before a federal immigration judge.
From there the process is turned over to the Federal Immigration Courts which falls under the authority of the Department of Justice.
These raids were not connected to rumored enforcement activities scheduled to take place across the nation in June.
Ahead of those raids, President Trump announced ICE would delay enforcement activities to give Congress an opportunity to find a solution on the US-Mexico border. After that deadline, ICE and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) temporarily suspended immigration enforcement in South Louisiana ahead of Hurricane Barry’s landfall. An ICE spokesman said at the time that the suspension would remain in place as long as evacuation shelters remain open.
Details about if those enforcement actions have taken place were not immediately available Sunday.