Rumors of ICE raids on the Coast are false, officials say. Here’s what to know.

Rumors swirled Thursday that ICE agents were raiding a Coast casino the day after 680 people were removed from their workplaces at seven chicken processing plants and detained in Mississippi.

But those rumors are not true, officials say.

Photos circulating on social media showed unmarked white vans and buses in the parking lot of the IP Casino, prompting suspicions of more raids.

On Thursday afternoon, more than a half-dozen vans and buses were in the parking lot across from the casino, which was being patrolled by IP security. It’s not clear if the vans, unmarked with Louisiana tags, belong to ICE.

“The rumors of raids at the IP are completely false,” said David Strow, director of corporate communications for Boyd Gaming, parent company of IP Casino Biloxi.

Lea Campbell, founder and president of the Ocean Springs human right advocacy group Mississippi Rising Coalition, said she also confirmed with Biloxi police, IP and the Mississippi Department of Human Services that there was no raid at the casino after receiving calls from worried residents.

“When people saw who they believed were agents they started calling us,” Campbell said. “That shows Mississippians want to protect the immigrant community that we know and love. That’s evidence that people want to protect them. I’m so proud of all of the people who reported what they saw. I hope they keep doing that.”

No raids on the Coast had been confirmed by 3 p.m. Thursday. Biloxi police Lt. Chris De Back said the department was not made aware of any raids happening in the city on Thursday.

Sun Herald has reached out to ICE to see if agents are on the Coast or if the unmarked vans belong to the agency.

The operation Wednesday was one the largest immigration raids in the U.S. in nearly a decade, according to news reports. 300 of the 680 people detained were released on Thursday.

Justin Mitchell is the southern regional growth editor for the Biloxi Sun Herald, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer and Macon Telegraph. He also reports on LGBTQ issues in the Deep South, particularly focusing on Mississippi.
Alyssa Newton is an award-winning multimedia journalist with a background in television, radio and print. She’s originally from Dothan, Alabama and has a journalism degree from the University of South Alabama in Mobile. Her passion lies in storytelling, news, sports and a strong espresso.