This young woman cries while standing outside the Koch Foods Inc., plant as U.S. immigration officials raid the plant in Morton, Miss., Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. U.S. immigration officials raided several Mississippi food processing plants on Wednesday and signaled that the early-morning strikes were part of a large-scale operation targeting owners as well as employees. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The Latest: Superintendent says students absent after raids

August 08, 2019 - 7:05 pm

MORTON, Miss. (AP) — The Latest on immigration raids in Mississippi (all times local):

5 p.m.

The company that owns one of the plants targeted in a Mississippi immigration raid says it follows strict procedures to make sure full-time employees are eligible to work in the country.

Koch Foods is based in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge and is one of the largest poultry producers in the country.

On Wednesday, about 600 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents fanned out across plants operated by five companies, arresting nearly 700 people in the largest immigration raid in a decade.

In a statement, Koch said it vets full-time employees with E-Verify, a federal government database employers use to check if employees can work legally in the U.S.

Company spokesman Jim Gilliland says Koch Foods also relies on temporary workers that come through a third-party service, which is tasked with checking those workers' eligibility.

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11:14 a.m.

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

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials say 680 people were arrested in Wednesday's raids.

But immigration lawyers say that by Thursday morning, about five busloads of people had been released.

The terms of the workers' releases were unclear. It also was unclear whether any of those released were determined to be living in the country legally. ICE officials did not return telephone calls Thursday morning.

Officials had said Wednesday that they would release detainees who met certain conditions, such as pregnant women or those who hadn't faced immigration proceedings previously.

Karla Vazquez-Elmore is a lawyer representing arrested workers. She said even those not arrested are terrified.

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