ICE Prepared for an Entire Year for Mississippi Raids, But Had No Game Plan for Children of Detainees

Immigration Raid Mississippi

The raids in Mississippi have an impact that extends well beyond the nearly 700 people initially swept up in the operation. There’s the expense of the raid itself, which gets passed on to taxpayers. There’s the cost to the businesses that have lost countless employees and may no longer have enough staff to remain open. Most importantly, there are the children who have been separated from one or both of their parents; no one, including ICE, was prepared to deal with these young victims of modern-day America’s immigration policies. 

President Trump was visiting El Paso following the weekend’s shooting (a particularly incongruous time for ICE to pain a large raid that would target the Latinx community), but it turns out that he had no idea that ICE would fulfill his threat of raids. Though the raids have certainly been permitted and promoted by the Trump administration, ICE decided not to inform the President as they did not want to risk his gloating about impending operations over social media and potentially diminishing their impact. 

Perhaps more importantly, the state’s Department of Child Protection Services was also caught off guard by the operation, despite the fact that the raid would necessarily leave some children without the protection and care of a guardian. “The Department of Child Protection Services was not notified beforehand of the ICE activity, nor have we been contacted by them after the fact,” a spokeswoman for the department told the Washington Post. “It is frustrating because we have resources on the ground, trained, ready and licensed to respond to emergency situations, and we could have provided services that instead appeared to be put together in a makeshift fashion.” As of Thursday evening, the Department could not say if the children of each detainee was safe or accounted for. 

The National Educational Association and the Mississippi Association of Educators pointed out in an official statement that the timing of this raid — not that any time is a more appropriate time — falls right as school-aged children are starting their school year. “The trauma these students are enduring is inconceivable,” the statement said. The organizations reiterated what we already know: “The effect the raids will have on their long-term mental and emotional health is profound.”

ICE has explained that not every detainee would remain in their custody; if both parents of a child are detained, one of them would be released from custody on “humanitarian grounds” so that the child isn’t left an orphan. Single parents would also be allowed to return home to be reunited with children. 

The director of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Mississippi School of Law told the state’s Clarion Ledger that the raids were ultimately a fruitless incident. “We aren’t one bit safer tonight — nobody believes these people were a danger to anyone. Families have been torn apart and local businesses have been hurt. Mississippians didn’t ask for this.”