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After hundreds of immigrants were rounded up in Mississippi, did you see any Americans lined up to take their jobs? Columnist EJ Montini explains. Diana Payan, The Republic | azcentral.com

Opinion: ICE knew where to look for the immigrants. And, just as clearly, the immigrants knew where to look for work. Why was that, do you suppose?

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Do you expect to see long lines of out-of-work Americans looking to get jobs at the four poultry process plants in Mississippi that were raided by agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement this week?

A while back President Donald Trump tweeted about how his administration was about to deport “millions” of non-citizens now living and working in the United States.

He tweeted:

He told folks at a rally in Florida that undocumented workers were stealing job opportunities from Americans, throwing in the possibility that there might be MS-13 gang members in the mix.

So on Wednesday 600 agents rounded up 680 workers whose job it is to process chickens. Cutting. Cleaning. Deboning. Packing. That sort of thing.

Killers or gang members?

I heard nothing about gang membership of those who were rounded up, or weapons violations, or drug dealing, or prostitution, or gambling, or other criminal activities.  According to an analysis by USA Today, when President Trump speaks about illegal immigration the words that come up over and again are “invasion,” “aliens,” “killers” and “criminals.”

I didn’t notice any of that in photographs of the raids in Mississippi. I did, however, see a lot of mothers and fathers, and in turn a lot of crying children.

A Mississippi CBS affiliate showed a traumatized 11-year-old named Magdalena Gomez Gregorio saying, “Government, please show some heart. Let my parent be free and with everybody else. Please, don’t leave the childs with cryness and everything. … I need my dad and mommy. My dad didn’t do nothing. He’s not a criminal.”

Clearly, the investigators at ICE knew where to look for the immigrants. And, just as clearly, the immigrants knew where to look for work.

Why was that, do you suppose?

The kind of jobs immigrants take

Could it be that American citizens weren’t clamoring to get those jobs?

According to a 2017 Government Accountability Office report the meat and poultry processing industry had the eighth-highest number of severe injury reports of all industries.

Other reports indicate that poultry processing had a higher rate of injury and illness than logging, coal mining and other industries.

They can be difficult jobs. The kind of work that has drawn immigrants for generations.

Not criminals. Families.

Still, the immigration raids may have worked for the president in other ways, providing a bit of a distraction from the mass shootings that have dominated the news, and how nothing has been done by the federal government about the problems we face owing to lax gun laws and a proliferation of white nationalist terrorism.

About those deported millions ...

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Dozens of immigrant workers have been released a day after being detained in the largest immigration raid in a decade in the United States. AP

In the meantime, it appears at some point there will be a number of job openings, possibly hundreds, at these chicken plants in Mississippi, and I’m wondering if there are American citizens lining up outside the plants to apply for the soon-to-be-vacant positions.

Although not one of the individuals rounded up at the facilities has been shipped out of the country just yet. There are legal procedures to be followed.

Which would seem to indicate that when Trump claimed to soon remove “millions of illegal aliens” he was, as they say in the poultry business, counting his chickens before they’ve hatched.

Reach Montini at ed.montini@arizonarepublic.com.

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