Immigration raids at poultry plants has some on edge

Advocate says “Know Your Rights”

Immigration raids at poultry plants has some on edge

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Emotions are high for many in the area after what’s being called the largest single-state workplace sting in the United States happened in Mississippi.

Arkansas United Founding Executive Director, Mireya Reith has been working nonstop since Wednesday.

“The impact of Mississippi has been 24 hours of chaos and I’ve been doing this now for a decade. I started up Arkansas United now close to 10 years ago and this is the worst I have ever seen it," Reith said.

Her organization has advocated and offered services for immigrants all over Arkansas since 2012 and today, her message is simple: do your research.

“Where there have been several policy changes, there have been absolutely no changes in the rights of our community or our employers. Rather as an individual or as an employer, you have the right to demand from ICE a warrant to allow them entrance to your premise or to open the door to them and more importantly a signed warrant,” Reith said.

Some concerned are the poultry plants in cities like Batesville and Pocahontas since three Peco plants were raided in Mississippi.

According to Reith, about a year ago, ICE stopped at a plant in Batesville and after seeing the plant was closed, the agents went into neighborhoods and rounded people up.

Peco released this statement to our sister station, WLBT, saying, in part:

"We can confirm the Department of Homeland Security was on-site at three of our facilities in Mississippi this morning - Bay Springs, Canton and Sebastopol. We are fully cooperating with the authorities in their investigation and are navigating a potential disruption of operations.

We adhere strongly to all local, state and federal laws including utilizing the government-based E-Verify program which screens new hires through the Social Security Administration as well as the Department of Homeland Security for compliance."

According to Reith, ICE out of Memphis has a reputation for high-level activity and they come into Arkansas a bit. And, in response, they have established rapid response networks.

Anyone who have questions or need help can call Arkansas United Hotline at 479-763-2822.

But, those rapid response networks have to work 10 times harder when people release false information.

“People going to social media and sharing photos and sharing news before information is validated really is feeding into this broad mast hysteria and panic which hurts all Arkansas, not just immigrants, but all Arkansas," said Reith.

All and all, she says know your stuff. She says ICE uses their interaction and verbal language within the community to really pressure people to sign things without attorneys and many times the papers they sign are deportation papers.

“Refresh on those rights and be vigilant," Reith said.

Arkansas United is hosting an invite only “Know Your Rights” meeting this Monday in Jonesboro. They are finding out that many immigrants have never spoke with an attorney, so there will be a legal attorney there to answer questions.

For more information message their Facebook page at Arkansas United.

Copyright 2019 KAIT. All rights reserved.