On Aug. 7, 2019, Immigration and Customs Enforcement raided seven poultry-packing plants in Mississippi in what was billed by Mike Hurst, US attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi, as the largest single-state immigration-enforcement action in American history. The interdicted plants were situated in three towns with populations of no more than a few thousand. More than 600 agents, clad in black body armor and packing heat, took 680 undocumented immigrants into custody. 

It wasn’t the first time packing plants and slaughterhouses had been targets for major raids in recent decades. December 2006 saw ICE hit six plants and round up nearly 1,300 workers. The Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa, another small town of about 2,000 people, was raided by 900 ICE agents in May 2008. Subsequently, the office of the Iowa attorney general charged the plant with employing 32 children under age 18, including seven who were younger than 16. Yet by all accounts, the industry continues to rely heavily on illegal-migrant labor, including child labor; a New York Times exposé published last year found meat-processing plants nationwide hiring migrants as young as 13. 

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