U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Tennessee have carried out the largest workplace raid in 10 years . . . at a meatpacking plant.
Ninety-seven immigrants were arrested Thursday at Southeastern Provision in Grainger County, Tenn., most of whom were from Mexico, according to Tammy Spicer, an ICE spokeswoman.
Ten were arrested on federal criminal charges, and one on state charges. The remaining 86 were arrested only on suspicion of being in the country illegally, Spicer said.
Local immigrant advocacy groups said that immigrant populations in the state were frightened by the raid.
“People are panicked,” said Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition Director Stephanie Teatro. “People are terrified to drive. People are terrified to leave their homes.”
Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said last year that the Trump administration would begin targeting employers that hire immigrants without legal status by stepping up workplace raids.
“Now we’re going to prosecute the employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens,” he said. “We’re going to detain and remove the illegal alien workers.”
Earlier this year, ICE arrested more than 150 immigrants over a period of raids in California.
"We’re going to enforce the laws on the books without apology. We’ll continue to prioritize what we do,” Homan added last year. “But it’s not OK to violate the laws of this country anymore. You’re going to be held accountable.”