Immigration agents execute massive raid at Howard Industries

WDAM will be airing a broadcast live from the facility at noon.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Federal immigration agents raided a major manufacturing plant in south Mississippi on Monday, but it wasn't immediately clear how many illegal workers were taken into custody.

Barbara Gonzalez, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman, said the target of the operation was Howard Industries Inc. in Laurel, a town of about 18,000 people located about 85 miles southeast of Jackson.

Howard Industries produces dozens of products, ranging from electrical transformers to medical supplies, according to the company's Web site.

"This is a targeted enforcement operation that is part of an ongoing ICE investigation that has revealed that illegal aliens are employed at Howard Industries," Gonzalez said from the scene. "Because the operation is still under way, an arrest total is not available at this time."

A recording at Howard Industries on Monday said the telephone switchboard was closed. A man who answered a phone call from The Associated Press at the company's security station said "no" and hung up when asked if there was anyone available to discuss what had happened.

Gonzalez said public health service officers were on the scene to interview and evaluate the condition of the workers to determine if there are "any humanitarian concerns we need to be aware of."

"Humanitarian concerns will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine if an alternative to detention is warranted," she said.

Gonzalez declined to tell AP how may agents were involved in the operation, saying "that's law enforcement sensitive information."


Note: ICE says people whose relatives were detained can call for information: 866-341-3858.