Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested nearly 600 suspected illegal workers yesterday at the Howard Industries plant in Laurel, Mississippi.
The Howard Industries plant in Laurel produces electrical transformers. Late yesterday afternoon, the suspected illegal workers were placed into unmarked white vans and transported for processing and possible arrest.
Barbara Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for ICE, said, "This is a targeted enforcement operation that is part of an ongoing ICE investigation that has revealed that illegal aliens are employed at Howard Industries." However, a Howard Industries statement released subsequent to the raid stated, "Howard Industries runs every check allowed to ascertain the immigration status of all applicants for jobs.... It is company policy that it hires only U.S. citizens and legal immigrants."
As of late Monday afternoon no criminal charges had been filed, but Gonzalez did say that numerous workers had been "identified, fingerprinted, interviewed, photographed and processed for removal from the U.S."
In 2002, Mississippi state lawmakers approved more than $30 million in funding to help expand the Howard Industries plant.
Not all Mississippians were pleased with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement carrying out their work. Bill Chandler, executive director of the Mississipi Immigrants Rights Alliance called the the raid a "violation of human rights."
Updated: Wed, Jul 5th 2017 @ 2:32pm EDT