Scott County Youth Court Prosecutor Constance Slaughter-Harvey watched Thursday morning as a few children reunited with and embraced parents whom, just a day before, they had been separated from after U.S. federal ICE agents arrested them.
"Some of them knew nothing about where their parents were. When their parents were reunited with them, they ran up and started hugging and crying, and it touched my heart," Slaughter-Harvey, a long time civil-rights attorney raised in Forest, Miss., told the Jackson Free Press on Thursday.
Only a handful of children were so lucky to be reunited with their parents, though, she said. In Scott County, the site of one of the chicken plants that a coalition of ICE, the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst raided Wednesday, she spent Wednesday evening helping to place about 30 children whose parents had been taken away. She had to look for relatives who could care for the children with no warning after the sudden raids that resulted in ICE agents from around the U.S. coming to Mississippi to arrest almost 700 people on unspecified charges.
Hurst said in a press conference Wednesday that the coalition was arresting immigrants suspected of either criminal felonies or for being in the country illegally, but would not specify further.
By evening, and after a huge uproar especially over stranded children around the state, many in school on the first day of the semester, the feds allowed at least some families to be reunited.
"Those parents were brought back home, some of the mothers," Slaughter-Harvey said. "And don't ask me how they determined who was going to be released because I have no idea."
Hurst said yesterday that immigrants detained in the plant raids would be sent to Jena, La., for processing. It is unclear what happened to parents of the other children