MALDEF

Fear Follows Largest Workplace Raid in U.S. History

On August 27, the Associated Press reported:
A day after the largest single-workplace immigration raid in U.S. history, Elizabeth Alegria was too scared to send her son to school and worried about when she'd see her husband again.

Nearly 600 suspected illegal immigrants were swept up in a raid at a Howard Industries plant in Mississippi.

Alegria, 26, a Mexican immigrant, was working at the Howard Industries transformer plant Monday when U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents stormed in.

When they found out she has two sons, ages 4 and 9, she was fitted with a bracelet and told to appear in federal court next month. But her husband, Andres, wasn't so lucky.

"I'm very traumatized because I don't know if they are going to let my husband go and when I will see him," Alegria said through a translator Tuesday as she returned to the Howard Industries parking lot to retrieve her sport utility vehicle.

The superintendent of the county school district said about half of approximately 160 Hispanic students were absent Tuesday.

Roberto Velez, pastor at Iglesia Cristiana Peniel, where an estimated 30 to 40 percent of the 200 parishioners were caught up in the raid, said parents were afraid immigration officials would take them.

"They didn't send their kids to school today," he said. "How scared is that?"
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Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund