OPINION: After Horrific ICE Raids in Mississippi, How We Can Respond


Yesterday, children across Mississippi went to their first week of school, many for the first time. Hard-working men and women went to work at their jobs in factories and offices across the state. It seemed like a day like any other. It wasn't.

When the black-clad immigration officers panned out around Mississippi Wednesday, the lives of many innocent men, women and children were changed forever. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents conducted raids in communities across the state including Canton, Forest, Morton, Sebastopol, Carthage, Pelahatchie and Bay Springs. Altogether, they arrested 680 people in what became the largest single-state immigration raid in American history.

No matter what the current occupant of the White House says, these people were not "animals." They were not an "invasion." And they were not an "infestation." No. They were simply people who had come to America searching for a better life. They were doing nothing but working their jobs. For this, they were ripped away from their families and their communities.

Now, many of those arrested will go to an immigration detention camp in Jena, Louisiana. Camps like this are often overcrowded, unsanitary and inhumane. In these places, immigrants are regularly made to sleep on hard concrete floors and denied basic needs like soap and toothpaste.

How did we get here? How did the nation who once proudly welcomed the world's tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to be free become the nation that snatches people from their communities to put them in camps?

Racist History of U.S. Border Laws

It started back in 1929. Before that, crossing the border without authorization was a civil matter. But, in 1929, U.S. Senator Coleman Livingston Blease proposed an idea that would fundamentally change America. Like many others, Sen. Blease was a virulent white supremacist who especially loathed Mexican refugees. To further his racist ideology,

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