On August 7, 2019 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted aggressive workplace raids in Mississippi. Agents arrested around 680 people in what is considered the largest immigration raid in U.S. history. In response to this crisis, Jobs With Justice sent nine leaders and activists from across the country to coordinate, train, and support the Southeastern Immigrant Rights Network (SEIRN) and local groups to conduct interviews of more than 140 workers to document what happened and support existing and emerging leadership. Jobs With Justice stands in solidarity with the raid-targeted workers and supports the working class community of Morton, Mississippi that was devastated and traumatized by the event.
While in Morton, we heard so many stories about chronic pain, constant infections, sexual harassment, child labor — because parents are only paid a dollar and change for each forty-pound box of chicken they process. These raids targeted poultry workers. Meatpacking, and particularly poultry processing, are among the worst jobs in the country. Workers at one of the plants in Mississippi had recently fought and won improvements after shining light on patterns of discrimination and sexual harassment.
Jobs With Justice will fight tirelessly for the rights of working people in Mississippi, the rights of children to know that their parents will be there to pick them up from school, and the right to advocate at work without fear of retaliation. We are providing strategic support to worker leaders so they can implement the solutions they know would improve their lives and the lives of communities across the country who are wrapped up in the meat-processing industry.
Jobs With Justice is committed to building up the leadership of the workers in Mississippi by having organizers on the ground and by working with partners like the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network, who can build lasting power.
We continue to advocate for the POWER Act, and demand employers cannot use ICE as a retaliation force deployed to silence and disappear workers who exercise their rights and demand what they deserve. The retaliation workers experienced is a direct result of a vicious immigration system built for the benefit of big business. The people of Morton, Mississippi won’t stand for it, and neither do we.
Read the feature-length story in The New Yorker about life since the Morton raids and the continued need to support working people in the aftermath of their community upheaval: