News Release provided by Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services
Anyone aware of a child or youth left unsupervised or otherwise affected by the ICE operations Wednesday at seven Mississippi food processing plants are urged to call 1-800-222-8000 and provide the name and location of those needing help.
The Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services has not been notified by Homeland Security Investigations, either before or after the sweep, of any assistance that is needed. However, the state child welfare agency on Wednesday independently mobilized its county-level offices in each of the communities where the arrests occurred. MDCPS learned of the sweep locations from local media reports.
“As soon as we discovered what was happening, we began preparing our emergency response,” said MDCPS Commissioner Jess Dickinson. “Our top concern was and is the safety and wellbeing of these children.”
MDCPS immediately alerted its licensed foster care homes and contracted emergency shelters on Wednesday to let them know to prepare for possible emergency placement of children in the wake of the arrest of 680 allegedly undocumented immigrants in Scott, Madison, Jasper, Rankin, and Leake counties. The state agency also brought in translators and additional staff to assist in placing and locating children, if needed. The Mississippi Centralized Intake hotline was notified to gather information from callers and immediately transfer that information to MDCPS county staff.
Additionally, MDCPS contacted schools and churches in the area in an attempt to locate any children needing shelter, food or protection services.
“At this time, we are still waiting and prepared to provide services as needed,” said Lea Anne Brandon, MDCPS Communications Director. “We have foster homes that have been carefully inspected and licensed, and foster caregivers who have been well-trained and have passed criminal background checks. We know we can provide safe and secure placements and trauma-informed temporary care for these children – but we have not been asked to do so.”
MDCPS has not been provided any information on the number or location of the children affected by the ICE operations.
“Our staff has been up all night trying to find these children to make sure they are safe. We are offering help and are responding to inquiries whenever we receive them,” Brandon added.