JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV)- “We are first and foremost a nation of laws, a country without a border is no country at all and without law, there is no order and without the enforcement of law there is no justice,” said Southern District U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst.
The operation, involving more than six hundred federal agents has been underway for more than a year. Wednesday, agents arrested 680 undocumented immigrants working at seven different processing plants in the state.
Hearst continued, “We will continue to ensure that justice is done. And while we do welcome people from other countries, they have to come here legally or they should not come here at all. The same goes for employers. To those who use illegal aliens for a competitive advantage, we have something to say to you – if we find you violated the law… we’re coming after you.”
Hurst says this is the largest single-state worksite enforcement operation in the nation’s history. The Department of Justice, Homeland Security, US Immigrations and Customs and ICE were also involved.
Matt Albence with US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement says people need to understand this is not an innocent crime. Undocumented immigrates plays havoc with the marketplace and lends to other illegal activity like human trafficking and smuggling.
Albence says this is a three-pronged approach to securing the border which includes compliance, enforcement, and outreach.
“Strong interior enforcement is essential to any strong border security,” added Albence.
Authorities say children will be placed with another family member and they have worked with school liaison officers to make sure those children are cared for. In some cases parents may be released for humanitarian reasons, specifically having young children in their care.
Some of those detained have already been ordered removed from the country by a federal judge. Others arrested are at the front end of that process.
Hurst says this is an ongoing federal criminal investigation.
“We in the U.S. Attorney’s office will continue to do our job to prosecute those who choose to violate the law in order to make our country secure.”