On Thursday, Latino Rebels received the following media release from Mississippi’s Immigrant Alliance of Justice and Equity:
JACKSON, Miss. — Due to the pressure campaign initiated by immigrant families calling for the immediate release of their loved ones, four Mississippi fathers held over eight months since the August 2019 poultry plant raids were released from detention last week on humanitarian parole and are now safe with their families
“To come and find yourself with your family is one of the most beautiful experiences, and I am grateful to God for the opportunity to return to my home after eight months,” said J, one of the men just released from Richwood, Louisiana. “To be able to hug my kids, my wife, is a true blessing, and one I wish for all those who are still inside, because it is not easy to survive in there.”
However, more than eight months after the ICE raids on Mississippi poultry plants targeting hard-working men and women, more than a dozen people are still detained.
The releases of the four men comes after securing the public support of Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson, Chair of the House Homeland Security Committee. After hundreds of Mississippians signed a letter asking for his support, Congressman Thompson joined thousands of doctors, nurses, and medical professionals in calling his colleagues in Congress and Attorney General William Barr for the release of detainees ahead of likely COVID-19 outbreaks. According to Congressman Thompson, release “is not only for the health of these immigrants, but also for the health of the DHS frontline workforce and the general public.” Mississippi organizations now call on Governor Reeves to do everything in his power to secure release of all those still detained.
Inside the detention centers, ICE continues to be incapable of providing care. As S., currently detained in Richwood explains, “We are 286 people here still… and we don’t have any kind of protection against sickness… we don’t have soap to wash our hands or antibacterial gel, and the guards enter from the outside without even wearing a mask… We are afraid for our lives.”
Another detainee, Y., explained that guards from LaSalle Corrections, the private corporation which operates the Richwood facility, “keep us detained here for business reasons, to keep making profits, like we were worth less than commodities. Lots of people are making money off of us, but they are risking our lives.”
Protests within the Richwood Detention facility are ongoing, as detainees recognize what will happen to them, the guards, and the surrounding community if they are not released. A., who was released on humanitarian parole last week after eight months of pressure since the August workplace raid where he was arrested, says that “the prisons they sent us to are a graveyard.” Medical experts predict that if Governor Reeves does not act quickly to release those held in Adams County Correctional in Natchez, the local hospital infrastructure will be overwhelmed by the “tinderbox” of the prison—devastating detainees, guards, and the surrounding community alike. Governor Reeves has the power to release those still detained and avoid unnecessary loss of life.
The letter, coordinated by the Mississippi-based Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity, calls on Governor Reeves to support the following recommendations made by hundreds of elected leaders, doctors, and organizations around the country:
Release the hundreds of individuals currently being held in discretionary ICE detention in Mississippi
Suspension of all state and local collaboration with ICE enforcement operations to stop the flow of new people into jails and prisons
Release those currently held in state and county jails and prisons