Congressional Hispanic Caucus Demands Answers On Record-Breaking ICE Raids

REUTERS/Mike Segar

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus asked two top immigration officials for details about the illegal immigration raids that led to the arrest of 680 people.

“This raid, which is the largest [Immigration and Customs and Enforcement] raid in our nation’s history, is a continuation of the Trump Administration’s politically driven immigration agenda and efforts to target Latino families,” read a portion of a letter they sent Monday to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan.

“ICE raids of this scale are not conducted for the purpose of immigration enforcement; instead, their purpose is to instill fear in Latino and immigrant communities at a time when Latinos are already living in terror,” the Hispanic lawmakers continued. “These workplace raids decimate communities and target law-abiding immigrants who are just trying to earn an honest living.”

Democratic Reps. Joaquin Castro and Veronica Escobar of Texas, Ruben Gallego of Arizona, Nanette Diaz Barragan of California and Adriano Espaillat of New York signed the message. Castro, the twin brother of Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, serves as the caucus chair.

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) officers from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) look on after executing search warrants and making some arrests at an agricultural processing facility in Canton, Mississippi. (Immigration and Customs Enforcement/Handout/Reuters)

The letter pertained to a massive operation ICE conducted on Aug. 7. ICE agents targeted seven food-processing plants across Mississippi believed to be employing hundreds of illegal aliens. Ultimately, authorities arrested 680 people on suspicion of being undocumented.

The operation marked ICE’s largest single-state raid in U.S. history and attracted protests from opponents of the agency.

The lawmakers are asking McAleenan and Morgan to provide information about the costs and funding of the Mississippi operation, the personal information about the people taken into custody, list of children whose parents were detained, and various other questions about the raid.

“Instead of targeting undocumented workers with long-standing ties to communities, the Department of Homeland Security should use its resources to target nefarious and serious national security and public safety threats,” the letter continued, which also criticized the agencies for executing the operation “just days” after a shooting in El Paso, Texas. (RELATED: White House Approves Rule That Penalizes Immigrants Who Use Public Benefits)

Both McAleenan and Morgan defended the raids on Sunday news shows and noted the operation was an enforcement of the rule of law.

“We still have to apply consequences, meaning enforce the rule of law, for those individuals that are here illegally against immigration law,” Morgan told CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday.

McAleenan said the timing of the raid was “unfortunate” and also revealed that, of the 680 people, over 200 carried criminal records. Authorities released nearly half of the people apprehended on humanitarian grounds.

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