Last month, a white extremist shot and killed 22 people in El Paso, Texas. He was hunting exclusively for Latinos, according to his racist screed on an 8chan network. Days later, the U.S. government reinforced that gunman’s incendiary language of a “Hispanic invasion,” by arresting almost 700 undocumented laborers at several Mississippi chicken processing plants.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi claims approximately 300 of those detained had been released, but news and social media released their own reports of confused children waiting at the end of their first day of school for parents who would not arrive. Schools reported a significant drop in school attendance the day after the raid, with the Leake County School District recording the absence of one-fourth of the student body on Thursday, while a Scott County School reported more than 150 Latino children vanishing after the raid.
“The government has created a sense of fear in the community,” says the Rev. Odel Medina, pastor of St. Anne Catholic Church, in Carthage. “About half of all our congregants were caught up or affected by the raid.”
“They are all terrified and will only speak to you anonymously,” he told The Lighthouse. “They are in fear.”
It is the exact same sense of fear that gunman Patrick Crusius was hoping to instill when he grabbed a weapon last month and used it to spray a Latinx crowd like he was watering geraniums. The government’s tactic was even more effective, however; while Crusius was out to terrify the Latino community, he instead horrified America. When the feds set out to terrify the Latino community, they hit their target spot on.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Acting Director Matthew Albence told The Associated Press the raids had no connection to the Texas massacre, the bust had been planned months in advance, and that “enforcement operations are being done on a racially neutral basis. Investigations are based on evidence.”
Critics disagree, however. This includes Cliff Johnson, director of the Macarthur Justice Center for the University of Mississippi School of Law in Oxford.
“I used to be a federal prosecutor, and here’s what we know about federal prosecutors: They have incredible discretion. It’s part of our system. It’s baked into our system because we don’t want blind adherence to every last dot and tittle of the law. We want people exercising good judgment, based on the values of the community, exercising discretion that doesn’t result in bizarre outcomes that are unjust and unfair, like leaving children out in front of the schoolhouse waiting for people to pick them up, or sleeping in a gym in Morton. … (but) that’s not the kind of justice that those involved in the Department of Justice and in the Trump administration are bound to follow. That was a conscious decision. Make no mistake about it—nothing that happened yesterday (with the raid) was an accident. Nothing was happenstance. It was calculated. It was intentional.”
Critics at Esquire Magazine pointed out any legitimate operation out to snag real lawbreakers would have also swept up executives at the processing plants, as well as the hiring team who had willfully kept undocumented workers employed at the facility. After all, this was an operation that had been prepared for almost a year in advance. Surely they could have arranged for the real powerbrokers behind the violations to be onsite at the time of the bust. But no executives were marched out onto the grounds in zip ties—just mothers and fathers. We’ve since learned that this raid targeted Koch Foods company workers who’d unionized and won discrimination suits on the basis of sexual harassment, national origin and race discrimination, and retaliation against Latino workers, no doubt to dissuade future workers’ rights organizing.
The raids did nothing to make America safer, said Jason Coker Field Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Mississippi.
“Nobody in Mississippi is safer. Nobody is better off. What happened with these raids devastated hard-working families that are trying to do their best, and now we have 680 families with no income and no way to get income, and now they’re stranded with nothing,” Coker announced at a rally of about 150 participants at the headquarters for the Mississippi-Branch NAACP, in Jackson. “What are their children going to eat? What recourse do they have for anything better? The United States of America and the state of Mississippi has perpetrated a great injustice for this immoral and inhumane behavior. I pray for our soul.”
The massive bust appears to be an extension of a racist president, who actually used the same language uttered by the gunman prior to his killing spree. Like the Texas degenerate, President Trump described an imaginary “invasion” at the border at least two dozen times within the past year. He summarized it as “this is an invasion,” at one May 19 speech in Melbourne, Florida. He then repeated the word “invasion” seven times in one minute, while cracking jokes at one audience member’s call to “shoot them.”
Mississippi Immigrants’ Rights Executive Director Bill Chandler said ICE does the bidding of the white nationalist president, and that this behavior is really nothing new to the U.S.
“I remember in 1954, being in a movie theater, watching a Spanish-language movie … and in the middle of the movie, the lights went on, and in came the border patrol with their shotguns, and they took everybody that was brown out of the theater and dumped them in Mexico. That was my first experience with the violence and brutality that can be inflicted on an immigrant. That happened in Los Angeles,” Chandler said. “I worked with the United Farm Workers union and of late with the Unite Here union in the casinos, and I (witnessed) abuse by the border patrol there, too. We have a long history of abuse. Laws are passed here to manipulate labor, not help immigrants. That’s really who we are.”