Latino illegals face old Mississippi demons


That day Selena first felt a draft. She put down her knife, turned around and saw men in black, pistols in hand, shouting in Spanish: “Hands on the head, nobody moves or we shoot!” “. The 39-year-old Mexican took a quick look at the other two, which had come out of her chicken-cutting plant: they were already blocked.

Thus began, Wednesday, August 7, in the Mississippi countryside, around the city of Jackson, the biggest crackdown launched in recent years by the federal agency for the control of American immigration (ICE, for Immigration and Customs Enforcement ). Seven hundred agents deployed to search seven factories in the region and arrest 680 undocumented workers, mostly Guatemalan, sometimes Mexican. 671 were prosecuted, 377 imprisoned. Among them, Selena, whose American dream suddenly collapsed.

Read also United States: several simultaneous raids by the immigration control agency, 680 Latino workers arrested

Almost four months after this operation hailed by the Trump administration, between 50 and 200 illegal immigrants are still behind bars. Selena, she was released after forty-three days, and can receive us in her white house, provided that nothing is revealed about her identity, her testimony can be held against her.

A job, a house, a family

His journey is that of so many Latinos. In 2002, she left her native region, north of Mexico City, and gave nearly $ 1,000 to a smuggler to cross the desert to the United States. Here she is on the Pacific coast, in Oregon, then on her way to the Mississippi, where her brother has settled legally. There, Selena gets hired at Koch Foods chicken factories, owned by Republican billionaires known for making and defeating elections in the Midwest.

When she presents an ID that Oregon provides to undocumented migrants, she is not asked any more questions. But in 2009, without warning, the company dismissed her for lack of a work permit. Selena then tampered with a fake American social security card, sesame on the job market, and managed to get hired by her competitor, PH Food.

Even if she does not speak a word of English, her life is organized: she owns, with her husband – clandestine, also in the construction industry – a tidy house, surrounded by greenery, sparsely furnished but with thick carpet. and a big refrigerator, in a mixed neighborhood, poor but okay for Mississippi. Her children, a 15-year-old teenager and a 10-year-old girl born in the United States, go to a nearby school. Everything is going well, until the disastrous Wednesday August 7th.

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