More than 24 hours after 680 people were detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, leaving an unknown number of children separated from their parents, the agency had not made contact with the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services.
As of Thursday morning, the state agency did not know how many children were impacted by Wednesday’s raids.
“We’ve been up all night trying to figure this out,” said Lea Anne Brandon, MDCPS spokesperson.
MDCPS was not notified of the raids beforehand, Brandon said, and has yet to receive any contact from ICE officials.
Bryan Cox, ICE spokesperson, acknowledged ICE had not contacted MDCPS, saying, “Law enforcement arrests people every day who may have children.”
Cox said there were “protocols and procedures in place,” and ICE coordinated with local school districts after the raids. However, he still did not know how many children may have been left without parents Wednesday.
State Rep. Tom Miles, D-Forest, whose district includes several of the plants where the raids took place, said most of the women detained were released Wednesday night so they could be home with their children.
Miles did not know how many women were detained and released, saying the main focus in the community was on the children affected.
Miles said both local businesses and churches offered support to make sure that children didn’t come back from their first day of school to an empty house.
“Our concern was that those babies were taken care of,” Miles said.
Cox said ICE released approximately 300 people Wednesday night. About 30 people of the 300 were released at the same site they were detained on “humanitarian grounds,” according to a press release issued Thursday from U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst, and ICE. If a couple was detained with minor children at home, one of them would be released on “humanitarian grounds.” The same was true for single parents with minor children at home.
“Based on these procedures, it is believed that all children were with at least one of their parents as of last night,” the release stated.
When asked how many of the detained parents had children and how many children were impacted, Cox said he did not know.
Brandon said with the number of people detained Wednesday, it’s feasible that CPS could see “hundreds to more than a thousand” children affected
Without any contact from ICE and the number of children unknown, Brandon said it’s difficult for the agency to know how it should prepare.
“It’s tremendously important that we know so we can get our assets lined up,” she said.
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