We Need To Talk About What Just Happened In Mississippi

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Once in a while, a human rights violation so egregious occurs that the world can’t bear to look away. Many outlets have released images of The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Mississippi raid on August 7 in six small cities in the state. Too often, Mississippi, the state in which I live, commits or permits violent acts to occur against people of color and those who have been historically oppressed.  The 7th day of August was the first day of school for children in Mississippi K-12, and many of these young children expected to see their parents after school, only to discover they couldn’t.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) say they obtained a search warrant from the Department of Homeland Security, and these raids were organized as a result. Despite the shock, these families were subjected to, many people immediately sprang to action. The raids became a trending topic on Twitter and many national outlets paid attention to an immigrant community that is often neglected.

Life in Mississippi is difficult for people of color. The state’s Black residents often have legitimate complaints about how the state’s history of racism continues to impact their lives. Meanwhile, injustices that plague immigrants continue on because we lack the numbers that would compel anyone to care about our needs.

This means elected officials don’t even attempt to have an agenda that is immigrant-friendly or that takes our unique needs into consideration. Few publications of national importance cover daily small crises that also deserve more media attention. It doesn’t help that bilingual reporters are difficult to find. That’s a portrait of our lives on a regular day.

Undocumented immigrants living in the state have it far worse. Relegated to underground economies– they are underserved when it comes to legal needs. Life can be especially trying for people who haven’t yet mastered English. Qualified translators are nearly impossible to find, and the majority of hospitals only employ interpreters on an on-call basis. These jobs don’t attract people who are bilingual because they don’t provide enough hours to provide a steady living wage. They also offer few benefits and require potential employees to show up to work in a matter of minutes at any time.

Once in a while, those of us who were born or naturalized here, or who have another form of legal status in the United States, are reminded that our undocumented brothers and sisters continue to need our assistance during trying times like these.

I live four hours away from where the raids occurred. I don’t personally know anyone who was detained and am not in direct contact with everyone offering to help. However, it’s still been heartening to know that despite the fact that life for immigrants of various backgrounds is difficult in Mississippi, the Deep South, and other parts of the country, people have opened up their hearts and wallets to provide assistance.

The Aug. 7 raids even got the attention of some celebrities and major political figures.

Despite the fact that the recent raids represent yet another negative talking point about Mississippi, it’s great to know that people living outside of Mississippi–who are not deeply ingrained in the culture of the state took time out of their day to bring attention to the families affected. This raid has been a major blow to the community, and though there certainly are people who are happy about this, many more are opening their doors to undocumented immigrants, and urging people to be good neighbors.