Statement on ICE Raids in Mississippi
Raids Violate Guarantee of Equal Legal Protections for All American Children
Baltimore, Md. – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) today strongly condemned the recent ICE raids in Mississippi, leading once more to hundreds of children being separated from parents and guardians, awaiting pick-ups from schools or day care centers or returning to empty homes. By design, ICE did not notify the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services that the raids were to take place, nor did it notify them afterwards—a turnaround from what had, up until recently, been standard operating procedure for ICE whenever children were involved in enforcement activities.
“This is a shocking attack on the integrity of the family unit,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of LIRS. “Raids such as the ones we saw in Mississippi risk creating another family separation crisis and target innocent children, with no thought for their welfare or the trauma that separation creates, almost certainly resulting in profound long-term effects on mental health.”
LIRS strongly condemns the raids for not only ripping children away from their families, but also leaving an already under-resourced state agency to try to find suitable placements for these kids with no advance notice. The law affords all children who are U.S. citizens the same level of care and these actions violate equitable protection. Child Protection Services would not allow a U.S. born child under normal circumstances to sleep in a school gym or to be placed hastily with a neighbor; yet that is exactly what we saw happen in Mississippi.
“Immigrant families were already reeling from a week of unprecedented targeted hate from two separate mass shootings,” Vignarajah said. “The raids send a volley of fear throughout the country that continues to traumatize. The damage is not limited to the immigrant family, but ripples throughout their communities, creating a climate of fear, distrust and hostility.”
Vignarajah urged congregations and all people of faith to immediately demand humane and compassionate treatment for all of God’s children.
Affected communities can get help and practical information from the Women’s Refugee Commission’s toolkit, “Detained or Deported: What About My Children?” The toolkit aims to help communities preserve families — whose bonds have no borders.