The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, officials took 97 immigrants into custody at a Tennessee meat processing plant in what activists are calling the largest single worksite immigration enforcement action since George W. Bush administration, the Associated Press reported.
ICE spokeswoman, Tammy Spicer said in a statement Friday, that eleven people were arrested on criminal charges and 86 were detained on charges of staying illegally in the country during a Thursday raid at the Southeastern Provision, a meat processing plant in Bean Station in eastern Tennessee.
ICE officials, along with Homeland Security, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and the Tennessee Highway Patrol executed a federal search warrant on the meat processing plant Thursday morning, Spicer said.
During the raid, Homeland Security officials encountered 97 people who are subject to removal from the U.S., she said. Ten workers were arrested on federal criminal charges, and another was arrested on a state charge. Of the 86 people arrested and placed in deportation proceedings, ICE kept 54 in detention and released 32 from custody, the ICE spokeswoman added.
Jessie Hahn, labor and employment policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center, told the AP, "This is part of the stepped-up Trump mass deportation enforcement agenda for sure."
A Tennessee activist told the AP that ICE's move shows Trump administration will continue to crackdown on immigrants.
"What we saw here, while it is the largest and certainly credibly egregious raid, it does fit in the larger practice and patterns of the Trump administration of targeting workers, indiscriminately arresting immigrants and really terrorizing communities across the country," Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, said, according to the AP.
Teatro informed that advocacy groups have begun mobilizing as they seek donations to help families of those arrested during the raid.
"That’s because in the face of the threats of the Trump administration, communities have been organizing and coming together to defend their rights and we’re not going to stop organizing, and the community isn’t going to stop standing with these families until they’re returned home," Teatro said.
In January, immigration rights activists raised alarm at the then largest-single crackdown operation, in which ICE raided nearly 100 7-Eleven stores across the US, during which the US agency arrested nearly 21 people under suspicion of living illegally in the country.
ICE targeted 98 stores in Washington, D.C., Indiana, Illinois, Maryland, California, Florida, Missouri and several other states of over 8,600 stores of the Texas-based 7-Eleven chain. The agents opened employment audits and interrogated employees during the process.