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Arkansas Factory Raid Disrupts Communities, Immigrant Advocates Say

Arkansas was the latest state to experience ICE raids in recent months, with Tennessee and Ohio seeing similar raids and detainment of people suspecting of having illegal status. (Twenty20)
Arkansas was the latest state to experience ICE raids in recent months, with Tennessee and Ohio seeing similar raids and detainment of people suspecting of having illegal status. (Twenty20)
September 17, 2018

ALMA, Ark. – Several families in Arkansas this week are living without loved who face charges of immigration violations after a raid in a factory in Alma.

At least 28 people were taken into custody, but the women were later released.

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement served the warrant on the Bryant Preserving Company based on an undisclosed criminal investigation.

Humberto Marquez, organizing director of Arkansas United, an immigrant advocacy group, says it's left several families with a large gap.

"The men are still currently detained and they were taken to the Washington County Jail,” Marquez explains. “A lot of those men are fathers, are husbands."

Currently, the detainees are only suspected of having an illegal immigration status. Earlier this year, ICE faced criticism for separating children from their parents, which Marquez says may be part of the reason why women were released.

Bryant Preserving has insisted in public statements that it is not part of an investigation.

The company says it uses E-Verify in its hiring process, which is intended to ensure that employees have a legal status.

Marquez says the raid has left a community shaken and uncertain, regardless of the company's level of involvement.

"There's plenty of people who are citizens who perhaps wouldn't be directly affected by this, but somehow it still implements fear because there's friends, neighbors, who might not have a stable status," he states.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Arkansas declined to comment on the raid. Similar raids have taken place in Tennessee and Ohio over the last year.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - AR