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SPLC will represent immigrants arrested in Tennessee raid

The SPLC is preparing to provide legal representation to approximately 50 people who were arrested at a meatpacking plant in Bean Station, Tennessee, in the largest workplace immigration raid since the George W. Bush administration.

About half of the nearly 100 immigrants who were swept up in the April 5 raid are now being detained at immigration prisons outside the state, far from their loved ones, and they are facing deportation even further away from their homes.

Many of the men and women who were detained have children who depend on them. They are moms and dads, aunts and uncles, and members of their communities. It has been reported that as many as 600 children were absent from school the day after the raid.

“This kind of extreme action by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is counterproductive and unconscionable,” said Michelle Lapointe, acting deputy legal director for the SPLC. “Workplace raids like this one cause a great deal of human suffering by pulling children away from their parents, breaking up families, and splintering communities. The SPLC is preparing to help affected individuals fight for their rights.”

SPLC staff at the Southeast Immigrant Freedom Initiative (SIFI), a project of the SPLC that enlists and trains volunteer lawyers to provide free legal representation to detained immigrants facing deportation proceedings in the Southeast, are preparing to represent large numbers of raid victims at Louisiana ICE detention centers. Like many other detention centers in the South, these detention centers deny detainees’ their rightful access to an attorney , and force them to endure inhumane conditions .

The SPLC worked alongside the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) last week to gather information from and support family members of those detained, and others affected by the raids.

The men and women who were detained were laboring at a meatpacking plant named Southeastern Provision. While larger in scope than other recent enforcement actions, the raid is the latest in a series of stepped-up enforcement actions against immigrants, including those with longstanding ties to their communities. Under the Trump administration, immigration arrests have risen more than 40 percent, and deportations from the interior of the U.S. have spiked 34 percent.

Here are some SPLC resources for those affected by this and other immigration raids:

Photo: AP Images/LM Oter