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MCC Central States responds to immigration raid

Cathryn Clinton
October 30, 2008

AKRON, Pa. – Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Central States provided food and financial support to assist families affected by an Aug. 25 immigration raid in Laurel, Miss.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel detained 595 suspected undocumented workers at a manufacturing plant in the largest single-workplace immigration raid in U.S. history.

Two months after the raid, most of the workers remain in detention awaiting deportation or criminal charges related to identity theft, according to Ed Esguerra, director of Hispanic ministries for Central United Methodist Church in Meridian, Miss.

The raid separated many families and left them without an income to support themselves, Esguerra said.

Many detainees cannot see their families because their family members are undocumented. Most families did not learn where their loved ones were held for five days following the raid, according to Esguerra.

MCC Central States provided 500 cans of meat that the Central United Methodist Church is distributing to families that lost their income because of the raid. MCC Central States also provided the church with $1,000 to obtain U.S. passports for 10 children who are U.S. citizens but whose parents were detained.

According to news reports, the raid was a chaotic event that led to a fearful atmosphere in the town, and many Hispanic parents didn't send their children to school the next day. The detainees were from a variety of countries including Peru, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador, Brazil, Germany and Panama.

MCC provides information to congregations that are interested in supporting undocumented people in their churches or communities. This information is available from Saulo Padilla, immigration office director for MCC U.S., at (574) 534-4133 or SauloPadilla@mcc.org.