After nearly 700 immigrants were detained by ICE agents on Wednesday during a series of strategic raids, an ugly situation in Morton, Miss., became even more gruesome as children, some as young as toddlers, have been forced to rely on members of their community in the absence of their parents.
The Clear Creek Boot Camp in Forest, Mississippi and other community leaders let kids sleep at the gym for the night and donated food for them to eat.
“We’re going to have bedding available for them and we’re going to get food for them just to get them through the night. And if they need transport to school in the morning, we can arrange that as well,” said gym owner Jordan Barnes. “I understand the law and how everything works, and everything has a system, but everybody needs to hold the kids first and foremost in their minds. And that’s what we’ve tried to do here is just give them a place to stay, just to kind of ease the pain a little bit.”
Imagine the joy of leaving for your first day of school, only to come home to the horror of your parents being detained? In one viral video published by CBS News, 11-year-old Magdalena Gomez Gregorio sobs violently as she struggles to make sense of having her entire world turned upside down.
“I want my dad. These Hispanic people aren’t doing nothing bad. They aren’t stealing nothing,” she pleads. “I’m not gonna have nothing for the first day of school for me. [...] I don’t know where I’m going to eat. I don’t know what I’m going to do right now.”
As a result of these raids on Wednesday, BuzzFeed News reports that as many as 200 kids didn’t go to school the next day, presumably out of fear of subsequent arrests:
A day after hundreds of immigration agents fanned out across Mississippi, arresting a record number of suspected unauthorized workers, communities were reeling as they faced the aftermath of the massive operation. Nowhere was that more evident than in the area’s schools where administrators reported significant drops in attendance.
Leake County School District in Central Mississippi said 50 students — one-fourth of all who attend — were absent on Thursday, while Scott County School officials said more than 150 Latino children did not show up for class. The Canton Public School District saw 63 of its 400 English as a second language students fail to appear following the raid, which occurred during the first week of school.
In the wake of this fiasco, many have taken to social media to voice their disgust at how this situation has unfolded.
“The raids in Mississippi are immoral and part of a war the Trump Administration has started against immigrant families,” Domingo Garcia, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) National President, told BuzzFeed News. “Once again, this Administration has separated families and left innocent children without their parents, simply for political purposes motivated by racism and prejudice.”
And even though several hundred of those caught up in the raid were released, the Morton community will never be the same.
“This is the worst thing to happen to our community,” Luis Cartagena, a Morton-area pastor, said. “People are very scared that we will have more bad news soon.”
Adding insult to injury, while hundreds of suspected undocumented immigrants experienced the horrors of having their families ripped apart on Wednesday, their employers went home like it was just another day at the office.
The ICE operation hit seven work sites and five different employers, authorities said. Of the 680 people arrested in the raids, 271 were released with orders to appear before an immigration judge, and 377 are still in ICE custody. Unlike the hundreds of employees who were detained and face the threat of deportation, the employers at the five companies haven’t been criminally charged or arrested.
Stay classy, America.