Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke knelt down on a patch of grass in a Latino neighborhood in Canton, Miss. A 2-year-old girl dressed in pink looked at O'Rourke while her father stood next to her, his palm resting atop her messy black pigtails.
The girl's father, speaking in Spanish, told O'Rourke this morning that he had two other children as well—and that their mother, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, had been been captured by federal immigration agents in at a poultry plant in town just one week and two days earlier.
"We're visiting this kind of terror on families who have done nothing wrong, who pose no threat. We've got to make it better. We've got to change this," said O'Rourke, a former congressman from El Paso, Texas. He said people in Canton told him they do not know how to make rent, pay for a lawyer for the family members—whether a wife, husband, grandparent—that ICE had detained.
At poultry plants across Mississippi on Aug. 7, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, carried out the largest series of one-day, one-state worksite immigration raids in history. U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, who coordinated the raids, announced that day that the agency had captured nearly 700 people they suspected were undocumented immigrants.
The day after the raids, Hurst announced that 300 of those immigrants had been released for "humanitarian" reasons—typically because they had small children with no other parent to care for them. The Guatemalan man with the little girl told O'Rourke that ICE is holding his wife in a facility somewhere two hours away. His other children, he later told Associated Press reporter Emily Wagster Pettus, are ages 4 and 11.
'We're visiting This Kind of Terror on Families'
The Jackson Free Press asked O'Rourke why he thought the Trump administration would choose to carry out such