(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Rep. Jamie Raskin, the Chairman of the Oversight Committee’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, and Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security requesting documents and a briefing to investigate the recent coordinated immigration enforcement actions, resulting in the arrest of 680 people in Mississippi.

“We are concerned by reports that these enforcement actions on August 7, 2019, left many children—on their first day of school—separated from their parents and terrified because they did not know where their parents were taken and detained,” the Members wrote. “It appears that these DOJ and ICE enforcement actions are targeting only immigrant workers and not their employers.  We are alarmed by the potential serious chilling effect of these enforcement actions close in time to these workers vindicating their rights to a safe working environment.”

Koch Foods, a company that owned several plants targeted in the enforcement actions, does not appear to have faced any immigration-related charges or penalties.  It is unclear whether any of the owners or managers of these worksites will face charges or penalties in connection with these enforcement actions.

Reportedly, following these immigration enforcement actions, volunteers took in sobbing children at churches and schools to provide them food and comfort.  Reports also indicate:

  • On August 8, DOJ announced that nearly 300 of the 680 people detained were released from custody, including some parents of separated children.  That announcement also states that some children were only reunited with one parent, in cases where both parents had been detained.
  • Approximately 270 of the people were released, and it appears that they will face only immigration proceedings, not criminal charges.
  • Administration officials failed to inform child protective services or schools in advance of the enforcement actions.  According to a news report, “ICE officials said ICE could not make sure all parents of children had been released or that all children had a safe place to go after school.”

Click here to read the letter to Attorney General William Barr and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan.