• 70°

ICE raids highlight need for change

The stories of children left behind after hundreds of parents were detained at poultry processing plants this week were heart-breaking.

A total of 680 people were arrested in Wednesday’s raids at plants in Mississippi, but more than 300 had been released by Thursday morning with notices to appear before immigration judges, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Bryan Cox. Some were released due to “humanitarian factors.”

Gabriela Rosales, a six-year resident of Morton who knows some of those detained, said she understands that “there’s a process and a law” for those living in the country illegally. “But the thing that they (ICE) did is devastating,” she said, according to The Associated Press. “It was very devastating to see all those kids crying, having seen their parents for the last time.”

It was devastating. And most Mississippians are likely torn between compassion for the children and the reality that their parents were working and living here illegally.

The backlash against ICE was swift. More than 100 civil rights activists, union organizers and clergy members in Mississippi denounced the raid, AP reported.

We understand their concerns. We also understand the government’s desire to uphold laws as they exist.

The raids highlight the broken condition of our immigration system. Many of these individuals have lived, worked and contributed to their communities for years, likely thinking they had flown under the government’s radar. Some likely came seeking a better life for their families, and were willing to risk being jailed or deported to do so. Some likely came illegally because they had no hope of ever gaining legal status.

Some of the outrage directed at ICE should be pointed at lawmakers who have helped create this problem — or at least refused to fix it.  Some of the outrage should also be directed at companies that knowingly hire people who are here illegally.

Regardless of your views on the ICE raids, surely we can all agree our nation’s immigration system is in need of reform. Immigrants, even those here illegally, are not invaders. They are people seeking a better future. We need laws that account for that, and we need laws that are enforceable. We encourage Mississippians to reach out to their representatives in government and demand a better immigration system.