[verbatim from U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton] LAUREL, Miss. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents executed a federal criminal search warrant yesterday at Howard Industries, Inc., an electric transformer manufacturing facility, for evidence relating to aggravated identity theft, fraudulent use of Social Security numbers and other crimes, as well as a civil search warrant for individuals illegally in the United States. The announcement was made by ICE Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Investigations in New Orleans, Michael A. Holt, and Stan Harris, First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi.
As a result of yesterday's enforcement action, approximately 595 illegal aliens were arrested by ICE special agents. Of those, approximately 106 were identified as being eligible for an alternative to detention based on humanitarian reasons. These individuals will still be required to appear before a federal immigration judge who will ultimately determine whether or not they will be deported.
Eight criminal cases have been accepted for prosecution by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Mississippi. The criminal cases are focused on charges of aggravated identity theft. The other cases are being handled via administrative law procedures at the Department of Homeland Security.
"Yesterday's enforcement action is part of ICE's ongoing nationwide effort to shut down the employment magnet fueling illegal immigration," said Holt. "We are committed to strengthening the integrity of our nation's immigration system."
Harris noted that the eight cases being criminally prosecuted are for separate identity theft charges. "Identity theft is a growing problem in the United States, and the Department of Justice has prioritized bringing perpetrators of these crimes to justice and protecting the interests of innocent victims."
All of those arrested were interviewed, fingerprinted and photographed by ICE agents and processed for removal from the United States. Approximately 475 were transported to an ICE facility in Jena, Louisiana where they will await the outcome of their case. The eight individuals facing criminal charges are in the custody of the U.S. Marshal's Service.
Everyone encountered was medically screened and interviewed by a Public Health Service officer to determine if they had any medical, caregiver, or other humanitarian concerns. As a result of this screening, ICE identified individuals eligible for humanitarian release and nine unaccompanied juveniles who are all 17-years-old. The juveniles, which included one female and eight males, were transferred into the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
Those arrested yesterday represent numerous countries including: Germany, Peru, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Honduras and Brazil.
ICE contacted local Consular officials, community groups and others to ensure they have accurate information regarding the operation.
ICE has established a local telephone number for family members to find out more information about the detention status of those arrested. Family members may call: 1-866-341-3858.
The investigation into this case continues.
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Action alert from the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (I ran into the 4000-character limit, but posted the full alert at http://mississippihumanrightsreport.net/2008/08/mira-take-action-on-ice-raids/ earlier today):
[ ... ]
The brutal ICE raid now taking place in Laurel and other parts hearkens back to Mississippiâ€™s shameful past of Jim Crow segregation, police brutality and violence. The current state laws, the national anti-immigrant climate and hangovers from Mississippiâ€™s inglorious past made Jones County ripe for ICE to conduct their usual raids that trample on constitutional rights and communities.
Laurel has the distinction of being located in Jones County, headquarters for two notorious racist and anti-immigrant groups, the KKK and MFIRE, the Mississippi branch of FAIR, the national anti-immigrant group.
Earlier this year the Mississippi legislature passed and the Governor signed into law Senate bill 2988, the most draconian employer sanctions law passed to date in the U.S. that further criminalizes workers, especially immigrants, and opens the door for employers to discriminate against Latinos and others.
SB 2988 makes it a felony to work without authorization in Mississippi. SB 2988 imposes a one to five year prison sentence and hefty fines of $1,000 to $10,000. No one has yet been charged under SB 2988.
Todayâ€™s ICE raid however opens the door to using both federal and state laws, including SB 2988, in a new way. This has everyone on edge. Mr. Chandler added, â€œNow we are all waiting to see what will happen to people being arrested at Howard Industries.â€
[ ... ]
Please visit the MIRA website to make an on-line donation at:
Send in a check or money order, payable to â€œMIRA,â€ write in the memo â€œRelief for families affected by raidsâ€ and mail to:
Jackson, MS 39215
To support MIRAâ€™s legal project, call (601) 354-9355
For media inquiries, (601) 968-5182.
Take Action to Stop the ICE Raids
Call or fax the following officials, demand an END to ICE raids and to stop the attack the rights of immigrant families, workers and communities
Mississippi Congressional Delegations:
MS Gov. Haley Barbour
Tel (601) 359-3100 * Fax (601) 359-3741
Call your Congressional delegation:
Find your Senators telephone and fax numbers at:
Find your Representativeâ€™s number at:
Tell them: Stop all immigration detentions & deportations, end raids:
* ICE raids traumatize families, undermine workerâ€™s rights and violate the rights of citizens and non-citizens.
* Immigration collaboration with local, county and state police and other public agencies undermine community trust and make our communities vulnerable to abuse, violence and exploitation.
* ICE raids and enforcement operations destabilize our communities and disrupt the economy.
* The problem with ICE raids is so fundamental that Department of Homeland Security should end all such enforcement operations.
* Congress must stop the raids and hold hearings on the impact on DHS/ICE on immigration raids and enforcement operations. Restore due process rights and make our communities safe!
To file a complaint against ICE agent on ICE abuses during enforcement operation or immigration raid:
Call the Joint Intake Center ATTN: Duty Agent
Fax (202) 344-3390 and (202) 927-4607
Toll-free: 1 (877) 2INTAKE (1-877-246-8253)
- Tom Head
ICE arrested 595 illegal aliens. So? Isn't that their job?
If they aren't here legally they should be arrested and deported.
For good measure, the authorities should also charge the people who are knowingly employing these illegals.
- Jeff Lucas
In all honesty, I have to agree. We have a high unemployment rate right now and can fill these positions with US(MS) citizens.
If they are here illegally, they should either be deported or go through do-process to become naturalized tax paying citizens.
I received a call about this a day or two before it happened seeking lawyers to aid in legally assisting immigrants. I didn't know what to do so I referred to them to the Federal Public Defenders Office in Jackson.
Agent Holt claims that “Yesterday’s enforcement action is part of ICE’s ongoing nationwide effort to shut down the employment magnet fueling illegal immigration. . . .”
Regardless, the DA's press release repeatedly points out how many "illegal aliens" were arrested and will be sent to a deportation hearing but is noticeably silent about any actions against the employer.
Why just focus on the undocumented immigrants? If illegal immigration is really such a concern, go after the employers. If they didn't know there are plenty of employers who will hire them, they wouldn't come in such large numbers.
- Tim S
The "talk radio" folks have pointed out that Howard Industries received a $30 million dollar state bond funding to expand their Laurel facility. They were to create 3,000 jobs. The enabling legislation required that Howard only hire "legal residents".
Could the state ask for our money back from Howard?
Keep in mind Howard Industries is totlly owned by the Howard family...so it the family will have a hard time hiding behind a "corporate veil" to limit their personal liability.
This is not like the "Beef Plant" where there was minimal legislative oversight and forethought. Our legislators appeared to have gotton this one right, as far as protecting the states investment.