Agents with Immigration and Custom Enforcement raided multiple restaurants in Mississippi on Wednesday.
According to an agency spokesman Thomas Byrd, federal agents executed criminal search warrants at eight Asian restaurants in the morning.
It is unclear how many people were detained.
The majority of restaurants affected were part of the Ichiban chain, Byrd said. The raids occurred in Jackson, Flowood, Pearl and Meridian. A China Buffett in Pearl was also a target of the search warrants.
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China Buffet II and Sake Sushi were the two Meridian restaurants involved, according to The Meridian Star.
Bryd declined to say what was outlined in the warrants. However, he said, all of the warrants are related.
Bill Chandler with Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance said it is his understanding the raids were targeting those “not in status” or undocumented workers who may be in Mississippi on expired visas.
Immigration attorney Ramiro Orozco said Wednesday afternoon that his office was “flooded” with calls after the raids. Orozco called on ICE to release the number of people detained as soon as possible.
“The recent raids in the metro and Flowood area are alarming,” Orozco said. “It is my hope that federal authorities will immediately disclose how many persons were detained and the rationale for their detention.”
Orozco criticized the recent round of raids and said, “ICE focus should not be in ripping apart families and adding to the distrust of law enforcement by the communities, which undermine our state’s economy. All persons, citizens or not, deserve due process and access to legal representation.”
A woman who answered the phone at China Buffett Wednesday afternoon whispered and said the restaurant was currently closed and did not know when they would reopen.
Calls to Ichiban’s two Flowood locations went unanswered.