FOREST, Miss. (WJTV/CNN/Gray News) – Federal agents arrested almost 700 mostly Latino workers in Mississippi Wednesday in raids that took place at seven food processing plants.
Officials say they are enforcing the law, but many in the community say it's not right to take parents away from children.
“I need my dad and mommy,” a sobbing 11-year-old Magdalena Gomez Gregorio said. “My dad didn’t do nothing. He’s not a criminal.”
On Thursday, Magdalena was reunited with her mother after she was released from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, CNN reported. There was no immediate word on her father.
Some 300 people arrested in the raids have since been set free.
Christina Persalta, the godmother of two children whose mom was arrested in the raids, said she felt helpless as the boys asked when they'd see their mother again.
“They're both crying. They've been crying all day since they got home from school," she said. "Their mom's been here for 15 years. She has no record, no nothing.”
The hundreds arrested Wednesday are believed to be in the country illegally, according to U.S. Attorney Mike Hurst.
"While we are a nation of immigrants, more than that, we are first and foremost a nation of laws," he said at a news conference.
A judge has already ordered the deportation of some of the detained people. Children left behind will be placed with family members, authorities said.
For now, the community is banding together to care for the kids. Some are being housed and fed at Clear Creek Boot Camp, about 45 miles west of Jackson.
"We're going to have bedding available for them and we're going to get food for them just to get them through the night,” said owner Jordan Barnes.
“I understand the law and how everything works, and everything has a system, but everybody needs to hold the kids first and foremost in their minds. And that’s what we’ve tried to do here is just give them a place to stay, just to kind of ease the pain a little bit.”
Additional reporting available at WLBT.