Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested approximately 680 people as part of a massive series of workplace raids in Mississippi on Wednesday.
The raid targeted seven food processing plants across the state and was planned months ago, the Associated Press reports.
One of the targets was the Koch Foods Inc. plant in Morton, Mississippi, where several busloads of workers were arrested. Workers who could immediately prove they had legal status in the U.S were free to go after having the trunks of their cars searched, according to the AP report.
Those who couldn’t prove they were in the U.S. legally were handcuffed with zip-ties and told to put their personal belongings in plastic bags before boarding the buses, then sent to a military hangar to be processed.
Dozens of local residents surrounded the plant and shouted, “Let them go! Let them go!” at the officers.
In a press release, ICE said the workers’ immediate fates would be determined “on a case-by-case basis” — but that every person apprehended as part of the raids will either be put in deportation proceedings or, in the case of those with prior deportation orders, will be deported.
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“In what is believed to be the largest single-state immigration enforcement operation in our nation's history, today at seven sites… ICE HSI (Homeland Security Investigation) special agents executed administrative and criminal search warrants resulting in the detention of approximately 680 illegal aliens,” Mike Hurst, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, told the Hill on Wednesday afternoon.
ICE did not respond to VICE News’ request for comment.
Cover: A man is taken into custody at a Koch Foods Inc. plant in Morton, Miss., on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. U.S. immigration officials raided several Mississippi food processing plants on Wednesday and signaled that the early-morning strikes were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as employees. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)