A coalition of Black activists released a statement and petition decrying the recent Mississippi ICE raids.
The statement expressed solidarity with immigrants who were targeted by a raid that led to the detention of approximately 680 people. The letter was signed by a dozen organizations including the NAACP, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and Black Voters Matter of Mississippi.
“We, as descendants of enslaved African people, stand here today in solidarity, in determination, and in righteous outrage at the unwarranted and heavy-handed actions of the federal government,” the statement read.
“On August 7th, 2019, hundreds of ICE agents descended upon four cities in our state, where they arrested nearly 700 workers because they believed that they might be undocumented," the statement continued. "These men and women were hauled away, bus load after bus load, with none of the workers able to see to their families and their children — children who would return from the first day of school to find their parents ripped from their lives.”
The authors called the raids “immoral, cruel, inhumane and inherently undemocratic,” and claimed ICE “swarmed upon and herded away [people] from their jobs like cattle.”
The letter also reminded leaders that the United States was founded on the backs of oppressed people.
“This is a nation-state that emerged through despicable native genocide, native containment on reservations and heinous exploitation of enslaved Africans as labor, and over time, the economy of this nation has been strengthened by the exploitation of waves of immigrants that continues to this day,” the statement went on.
Readers were encouraged to sign a petition demanding the federal government strike down anti-immigration laws and “reverse all prior decisions that deny affected people their basic human rights.”
Dozens of people have been released since seven Mississippi plants were raided last Wednesday. An estimated 377 people remain in custody, according to CNN. Several of the released were attributed to a childcare crisis after children were left abandoned while their parents were in ICE custody. The raids happened less than a week after a Trump-supporting gunman murdered 22 people in an El Paso Walmart. Most of the victims were of Latin American descent.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus mentioned the timing of the raids in its statement criticizing the Trump administration, reports The Hill.
“This raid, which is the largest ICE raid in our nation’s history, is a continuation of the Trump Administration’s politically driven immigration agenda and efforts to target Latino families,” the statement read. “It is also not lost on us that this operation occurred just days after one of the most horrific mass shooting targeting Latinos in America.”
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told Meet The Press the timing was “unfortunate” but the raids are the result of months of planning, according to USA Today.
"Something like this has been planned for over a year,” he said. “This is a criminal investigation with 14 federal warrants issued by a judge, and ICE had to follow through on that. It was already planned and in motion.”
The CHC believes McAleenan’s assessment of the situation was a “significant understatement” and believes the raids were meant to “instill fear in Latino and immigrant communities at a time when Latinos are already living in terror.”