Management fraud, willfully employing unauthorized workers, and fake social security numbers constitute just some of the evidence a judge used to authorize a series of immigration raids in Mississippi last week. As MPB's Ezra Wall reports, migrant workers left without jobs are turning to volunteer organizations to help them make ends meet.
A small window unit air conditioner struggles to contend with the hundred-degree heat index at the Trinity Mission Center in Forest. Dorcas Matias is leading her dedicated team of volunteers in organizing bags and boxes of incoming food donations. She says many members of the Spanish-speaking community in Scott County are overwhelmed following federal immigration raids at seven Mississippi workplaces last week.
"It's too much. The children, babies...the mom in the detention, the dad in the detention...it's too much people," says Matias.
Hundreds of the detained workers have been released - some because they had young children to care for. A woman named Anna Maria says she is still taking care of her six-year-old niece. Anna Maria says the child's father is being held in Mississippi. Her mother is in Louisiana. She doesn't know what will happen next.
On the other side of town is the Scott County Baptist Association. Volunteer Jess Dilley says they're flush with donations. He says they look forward to offering food and other assistance to the Spanish-speaking community, something that will be a new area of ministry.
"The main thing we gotta do is, we gotta get to know these families," says Dilley. "So that's our first order of business is to know our neighbors before we can love our neighbors."
In spite of the personal toll on migrant working families, officials steadfastly defend last week's actions. Here's Republican Governor Phil Bryant.
"The truth of the matter is, if you're here illegally, if you're violating federal laws, you have to bear the responsibility of that violation," says Bryant.
Regardless of the outcome, Dorcas Matias says the pantry at Trinity Mission Center will be there to help anyone in need.