You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Where are my parents? School on standby to help children in aftermath of ICE raids

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 8/8/2019 Sarah Fowler
a close up of a cage: A handcuffed woman stares though the chain link fencing at Koch Foods Inc., in Morton, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. U.S. immigration officials raided several Mississippi food processing plants on Wednesday and signaled that the early-morning strikes were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as employees. © Rogelio V. Solis, AP A handcuffed woman stares though the chain link fencing at Koch Foods Inc., in Morton, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. U.S. immigration officials raided several Mississippi food processing plants on Wednesday and signaled that the early-morning strikes were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as employees.

JACKSON, Miss. — A Scott County child started kindergarten Tuesday. Wednesday, while the child was at school, their parent was arrested by federal agents, one of 680 people taken into custody after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement conducted seven raids at food processing plants across Mississippi.

Superintendent Tony McGee said, as of Wednesday afternoon, he knew of at least six families within the district that had a parent caught up in the raids. The students range from kindergarten to high school.

McGee, who met with ICE officials after the raids, said he expected the number to increase. 

The raids happened in small towns near Jackson with a workforce made up largely of Latino immigrants. The towns hit include Bay Springs, Carthage, Canton, Morton, Pelahatchie and Sebastapol. 

Reports from the scene of the raids mentioned children waving goodbye to their parents as the adults were taken into custody. It is not publicly known how many children are being impacted by the arrests. 

Start the day smarter: Get USA TODAY's Daily Briefing in your inbox

'Dehumanizing':Jackson mayor slams ICE raids, asks churches to become safe havens

'Let them go!': Largest US immigration raids in a decade net 680 arrests

In Scott County, teachers and staff are on standby. To make sure a child doesn't go home to an empty house, bus drivers have been given strict instructions to have a "visual reference to a parent or guardian" before they drop the student off. If there is not a parent home, the child will be taken back to school, McGee said. 

The buses had not yet left the school when McGee spoke with the Clarion Ledger. 

"We're going to be here at the school until we make sure that every child is home safe or has a safe place to go," he said. "We're going to make sure our kids are taken care of first."

McGee said the district has "tried everything we can to try to reach out to parents and reassure them that school is a safe place."

Bryan Cox, ICE spokesperson, said he did not immediately know how many of the people detained in the raid had children at home. As of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, people were still being screened and processed, he said. 

AP Domestic Acting immigration director: ICE raids will happen The acting director of Citizenship and Immigration Services said Wednesday that a nationwide immigration sweep to deport people living the United States illegally is "absolutely gonna happen." (July 10)

Cox said everyone taken into custody and detained Wednesday will be processed but "not everyone is going to be (permanently) detained."

"You are going to have persons released," he said. "ICE makes custody determination on a case-by-case basis based on the totality of their circumstances."

In the meantime, McGee said the district had made after school arrangements for the children affected. As for the coming days, he said the main focus is "supporting families.

"We'll worry about the school part of it after we get all this sorted out," he said. "You can't expect a child to stay focused on the schoolwork when he's trying to focus on where Mom and Dad are.

"We all know there is a bigger picture in all this. We're not here to navigate those waters, we're here to try to help families get together as best they can."

Contributing: Associated Press. 

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Where are my parents? School on standby to help children in aftermath of ICE raids

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From USA TODAY

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon