Non-profit director reflects on 2008 ICE raid

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JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV)- Boxes of diapers and food are piled up and ready to be carried away to centers in Canton, Carthage, and Laurel for those families the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance says has lost
the primary source of income.

“We’re trying to help everyone who has lost the breadwinner of the family,” said Bill Chandler, the executive director of MIRA.

As the donations have poured in, attorneys have given legal help to th more than 300 workers released.

“They’re planning on basically pro-bono representation until they get to the point to sort out exactly what has happened to those workers,” said Chandler. “One of the problems with immigration law is that it is extremely complicated.”

Chandler says the legal project director for the organization is going to be
working with those who are locked up in Louisiana. This year’s raid reminds him of the one that hit Laurel more than a decade ago.

“The one that hit Howard Industries 11 years ago, one of the things was different about that was it was one location and ironically workers in Laurel had a union and workers were in the midst of contract negotiations for a union contract that expired on the 30th of August and it was on the 25th of August that ICE totally disrupted the workplace,” said Chandler.

Nearly 600 people were taken into custody at Howard Industries
in 2008 and in last week’s sweep close to 700 undocumented workers were detained, making it the largest single-state workplace raid in U.S. history.

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