Department of Homeland Security investigators discovered that the identities of 400 American citizens were stolen and used by illegal immigrants who were arrested this summer during immigration raids on Mississippi poultry plants, an official disclosed Thursday.
What are the details?
In August, 680 "removable aliens" working in Mississippi processing plants were arrested in a sting operation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in what one official said could be "the largest single-state immigration enforcement operation in our nation's history."
Days later, nearly half of the individuals detained were released on humanitarian grounds, amid criticism that the arrests had left children without a parent to care for them.
The criminal search warrants were carried out on the first day of school in some of the districts where the raids occurred, leaving "schools and authorities to scramble to house dozens of concerned and sobbing children whose parents had been apprehended," CBS News reported.
On Thursday, four Democrats from the House Committee on Homeland Security held a field hearing in Tougaloo, Mississippi, to assess the "impacts and aftermath on Mississippi communities" from the August raids.
CBS reported that the Homeland Security special agent in charge of the operations, Jere Miles, was grilled by the lawmakers, who criticized him for allegedly not giving local stakeholders a heads up and for separating children from their parents as part of the law enforcement initiative.
According to The Washington Times, Miles pushed back against lawmakers' claims that the arrested workers did no harm, telling the panel, "They stole the IDs of 400 U.S. citizens. Where's their voice?"
Miles pressed, "Is that not a serious crime?"
With that, committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) cut Miles off and told him to "Be quiet."
The Democrats also took issue with the fact that workers had been arrested in the sting but no charges had yet been brought against the people who had employed them. Mr. Miles reminded the panel that 850,000 documents were seized from the businesses targeted in the raids, and reminded them that the investigation was ongoing.
"Seven months from now, a year from now, when we finalize the investigation, there'll be nobody thanking us for it," Miles added.