Eleven-year-old named Magdalena made a tearful plea to the Trump administration: "Government please show some heart, let my parent be free with everybody else please," she said, while wiping away tears. "[… ] My dad didn't do nothing. He's not a criminal."
Magdalena is among the many children whose parents were arrested Wednesday in a massive immigration sweep across Mississippi. The raids, conducted by ICE's Homeland Security Investigations, targeted seven food agricultural processing plants in the state and resulted in the arrest of approximately 680 undocumented immigrants. The sweep was described as "the largest single state immigration enforcement operation in our nation's history."
A number of outlets report Magdalena and other children of those arrested stayed at a local gymnasium overnight, as they had no place to go following the raids. Community volunteers distributed donated food and drinks to the kids; however, CBS 22 reports most of the children spent the night crying, uncertain of their parents' whereabouts.
"I understand the law and how everything works and everything needs to have a system," said Jordan Barnes, the owner of the gymnasium. "But everybody needs to hold the kids first and foremost in their minds and that’s what we’ve tried to do here is give them a place to stay and ease the pain a little bit."
ICE announced it has released 300 migrants who were arrested during this week's Mississippi raids. The agency issued a statement claiming that those who were detained were asked if "they had any children who were at school or child care and needed to be picked up." Single parents were ultimately released on "humanitarian grounds" and returned to the place from which they were taken into custody. If a couple was arrested during the sweep, one of them was permitted to go home.
"Based on these procedures, it is believed that all children were with at least one of their parents," the statement read.