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Less than one week after ICE raided 7 food processing facilities in Mississippi apprehending nearly 700 illegal workers, American citizens are rushing to freshly-available jobs.
Koch Foods is headquartered in Chicago but maintains a chicken processing facility in Mississippi that employed 243 of the 680 undocumented Latino workers arrested in the raids last Thursday. Koch has since collaborated with the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES), holding a job fair to recruit new, legal, workers, according to the Associated Press.
The fair raked in 200 applications before noon, according to local media. The company says it will require applicants to present two forms of identification before being hired, according to CNN. MDES will also vet all Mississippi workers for legality using the state’s E-Verify system, according to USA Today.
A Koch spokesman did not directly correlate the job fair with the raids. Instead he told the AP that holding job fairs is routine for the chicken processing plant, especially given America’s strong current economy.
Job fairs “are part of normal efforts to employ,” Gilliand told AP. “In this environment of relative full employment, most businesses are looking for qualified applicants; Koch is no different.”
Dianne Bell of the Mississippi Department of Employment Security was involved in coordinating the job fair. She says that the immigration raid and Koch’s interest in recruitment of new legal workers went hand in hand.
“They reached out to us the very same day [as the raids],” Bell told USA Today, speaking on the collaborative recruitment effort between Koch and the MDES.
Those who are now seeking employment in the raided facilities cite high wages and frequent pay as reasons to take the exhausting job of a food processing worker, according to USA Today.
Last week’s ICE raids are “believed to be the largest single-state immigration enforcement operation in our nation’s history,” says to US Attorney for the Southern District Mike Hurst, according to CNN.
Many media outlets and commentators are attributing the raids to the Trump Administration or a racist agenda. However, acting ICE director Matt Albence maintained that immigration laws “are not new laws, nor is the enforcement of them new,” according to CNN.