According to officials, ICE agents raided seven plants in six different cities. A statement also noted that a vast majority of the workers arrested in the raid were of Latino descent.
U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst of the Southern District of Mississippi, shamed the owners of the businesses for hiring undocumented workers.
“While we are a nation of immigrants, more than that, first and foremost, we are a nation of laws. They have to come here legally or they shouldn’t come here at all. To those who use illegal aliens for competitive advantage or to make a quick buck, we have something to say to you: If we find that you have violated federal criminal law, we’re coming after you,” he said.
The raid was reportedly planned for a very long time, and a part of a larger investigation involving multiple agencies. Some employees attempted to escape on foot but were later apprehended by ICE agents.
Following the raids on Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Poverty Law Center both issued warnings about ICE, suggesting that people remain silent if ICE comes into contact with them, and to lock any doors and call an attorney if agents come to their door.
The raids were carried out by about 600 ICE agents, who were spread out throughout the different locations. Many of the Latinos who worked at the businesses were actually legal residents of the United States, and they were allowed to leave after having their vehicles searched.
The last raid of this size was in 2008, under the presidency of George W Bush, at a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, in 2008, where nearly 400 workers were arrested.
The largest businesses hit in the most recent raids were owned by Koch Foods, a company based out of Park Ridge, Ill., with locations across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Ohio, and Tennessee.
Koch Foods is one of the largest poultry producers in the United States and employs roughly 13,000 people. It is one of the most lucrative businesses in the country. According to Forbes, the company ranks as the 135th largest privately held company in the US, with an estimated annual revenue of $3.2 billion.