I saw a three-week-old baby girl today. She was surrounded by her siblings, being well-cared for by her mama. Her daddy has not seen her yet. He was detained in an ICE raid the week before she was born.
I know that some readers will stop reading right now. The parents knew they were breaking the law when they came. But there is always more to the story. For at least 15-20 years, this area of Mississippi has depended on the chicken industry as a major source of revenue. And the chicken industry has depended largely on Hispanic labor.
All these years, we have known the Hispanic workers were in our midst. Law enforcement knew it. The IRS knew it. The Social Security Administration knew it. Under both Democrats and Republicans, we all knew it. These families were not just “allowed” to work here. They were encouraged to live here, buy homes here, put down roots here, and bring more family members here. Until August 8, 2019.
I cannot say that a “tip” came in. No one needed tipping off. Everyone has known they are here. But suddenly someone decided to poke a hornet’s nest without any long-range plan. If the plan was to deport them all, the plan failed. Instead families who were paying taxes, spending at WalMart, buying homes, and raising children in stable homes are now ripped apart as their loved ones are detained at government expense until there is room on the immigration court docket months from now. The economic hit has not been completely felt in this area yet because the churches have stepped up to provide food boxes and to pay rent and utilities for as long as they can.
The emotional wounds will take longer to heal, especially for the children. The owners and managers of the plants will go home tonight and see their children. Many of their workers will not.