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Thompson holds hearings in Jackson on August ICE raids, calls immigration enforcement ‘selective’ and ‘disappointing’

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Rep. Bennie Thompson in 2016. Photo from U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, who represents Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District in Washington and is Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, is holding hearings in Jackson about the immigration raids last August.

He released the following statement yesterday:

Three months ago, on Aug. 7, 2019, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent hundreds of agents to Mississippi to arrest nearly 700 workers at seven chicken processing plants across the state. It was the largest statewide workplace raid in U.S. history, with 680 community members arrested. Far from being hardened criminals or posing a public safety hazard, those arrested were trying to provide for their families, send their children to school, and build a life free from the violence, crime and poverty at home.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of these raids is the way ICE failed to take into account that children would be left without one or both parents as a result. Hundreds of children, by some estimates over a thousand children, were directly affected by the raids. Children finished their first day of school only to find that there was no one to pick them up or no one waiting for them at home. Schools, social services, and entire communities had to scramble to try to find separated children.

In the town of Forrest, Miss., strangers and neighbors brought crying children to a community gym where the owner had offered them a place to sleep. Bedding and food was donated until children could be reunited with their parents, or in some cases with extended family.

The day after the raids, ICE believed that all children were reunited with at least one parent. Sadly, we know this is not the case. We know of a single mother who remains in ICE custody even though her three minor children are being cared for by an unrelated neighbor.

In some cases, it appears both parents or single parents could be deported. But what happens to the children? Will families be forced to send children back to a country they have never seen or speak the language of, or grow up here without any parents? What happens when these children are U.S. citizens?

Because of the way this operation was carried out, our communities are living in fear. People are afraid to leave their homes; children are terrified to go to school because they may return home to find their remaining parent gone; and local businesses are suffering.

Of note, none of the employers have suffered any criminal consequences. Mike Hurst, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Mississippi has stated, “To those who use illegal aliens for a competitive advantage or to make a quick buck, we have something to say to you: If we find you have violated federal criminal law, we are coming for you.”

And yet, not one employer or person from management has been arrested. No one has been charged. In fact, prosecutions of companies who hire undocumented workers have declined compared to the previous Administration’s numbers. The selective way the Administration is enforcing our laws is disappointing.

Today, we are joined by witnesses from all walks of life who will share their perspectives about what happened on Aug. 7, what has happened in the aftermath of the raids, and what can be done to help those who are still suffering as a result. I hope to also hear from our witnesses about how we can help ensure the mistakes ICE made during the recent raids are not repeated here in Mississippi or elsewhere around the country.

I support immigration reform to ensure that employers can hire the workers they need and good people who want to work to support their families will have way to do so.

In the meantime, I am committed to ensuring that the Department of Homeland Security enforce the laws in keeping with our values and exercises discretion where necessary to protect children and other vulnerable populations.

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Louisiana to begin I-20 Mississippi River bridge work in January 2020

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Photo by Renelibrary - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76201376

A nearly 50-year-old major interstate crossing over the Mississippi River will soon be receiving a face lift and modern structural improvements, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development announced Nov. 15.

The project to rehabilitate the two-mile-long Interstate 20 bridge over the Mississippi River is set to begin in the next couple of months.

Built in 1973, the bridge connects Madison Parish, La., to Warren County, Miss., and provides one of the few interstate roadway crossings over the river.

The $27.7 million project will provide a number of significant repairs including the bridge deck, electrical system, and roadway lighting components.

“Ensuring these integral crossings over the Mississippi River are properly maintained and modernized is crucial to growing the state’s economy,” said Louisiana DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson in a statement. “This project will extend the service life of this bridge for decades to come, an example of strategically investing in our existing infrastructure with our available funding and maximizing the use of those dollars.”

The old deck will be resurfaced with new concrete to improve traction and preserve the structural aspects of the bridge flooring. The current electrical circuits will be replaced, in addition to the replacement of nearly 100 roadway lighting fixtures with a modern LED system.

Roadway fiber optics will also be replaced with new cameras and radar, which will integrate the system into Mississippi’s IT network.

Additionally, selected bridge bearings will be adapted to provide the ability to re-position the bridge truss upriver as necessary. The steel structural connections at certain locations on the bridge will be modified to improve resilience against all loads and conditions.

New navigational lighting and aerial beacons will also be installed, along with improvements to the bridge monitoring system and enhancements to the inspection access walkways.

During construction, single-lane closures will be required, though there will be no lane closures conducted in both directions at the same time in order to maintain traffic flow as much as possible.

Work on the project is expected to begin mid-January 2020 and is anticipated to wrap up in early 2021, with progress dependent on weather conditions.

 

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Korean War casualty comes home to Greenwood after 69 years

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Cpl. Joe T. Avant of Greenwood, Miss. went missing in 1950 during the Korean War. Photo from the DPAA.

After 69 years, the remains of U.S. Army Cpl. Joe T. Avant will come home to Greenwood, Miss.

On Nov. 30, 1950, during the Korean War, Avant went missing in action after his unit was attacked. He was 20 years old at the time. Three years later, Avant was declared dead, reports the Greenwood Commonwealth.

His funeral is scheduled for Dec. 13.

“He will have the same military honors of someone who is killed in war today,” Delores Moore, Avant’s younger sister, told the paper.

Avant’s remains will be in Jackson a few days before the funeral. From there, the family and a group of retired and active military motorcycle riders, the Patriot Guard Riders, will accompany his body back to his hometown.

In 2018, the North Korean government gave 55 boxes containing the remains of American service members lost during the Korean war to the U.S., according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. Avant’s remains were among those identified from those remains through DNA and other methods.

Some 7,600 Americans are still unaccounted for from the Korean War.

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Crime

Vicksburg Police seeking help in locating William Taylor

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The Vicksburg Police Department is asking for the public’s help in locating William Alexander Taylor.

Taylor, 30, is wanted for discharging a firearm in the city limits and for weapon possession by a felon.

If you have any information on Taylor’s whereabouts, please call the Vicksburg Police at 601-636-2511 or Crime Stoppers at 601-355-TIPS (8477).

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