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Federal officials arrested 97 aliens at a meat-processing plant in rural northeastern Tennessee late Thursday in what advocates said was the largest single workplace raid in a decade and a sign that President Donald Trump's administration is carrying out its plan to aggressively ramp up enforcement this year.

Ten people were arrested on federal criminal charges, one person was arrested on state charges and 86 people were detained for being in the country illegally, Tammy Spicer, a spokesman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a statement Friday. All of those arrested were in the country illegally, she said. Most were from Mexico.

The raid on Southeastern Provision in Grainger County, Tenn., follows arrests at 7-Eleven stores and other workplaces nationwide. Last year, the nation's top immigration official said he had ordered agents to increase the number of work-site inspections and operations by "four or five times" this year, to turn off the jobs "magnets" that attract illegal aliens and punish employers who hire them.

The National Immigration Law Center and other advocates said the Tennessee raid was the largest since President George W. Bush's administration and deployed many of the tactics of that era, with a surprise blitz of the factory, a helicopter and streets blocked by state and local authorities. Immigration officials would not say where the raid ranked in terms of size.

"People are panicked," said Stephanie Teatro, co-executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, a statewide organization that swept into the small town and set up intake centers where relatives could report their loved ones missing. "People are terrified to drive. People are terrified to leave their homes."

Immigration and Customs Enforcement said its investigative agency, Homeland Security Investigations, executed a federal criminal search warrant Thursday at Southeastern Provision, in a joint operation with the Internal Revenue Service and the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Of the 86 people arrested on civil immigration charges, the immigration enforcement agency released 32 but did not explain why. The remaining 54 are being detained, but the agency did not provide their names or say where they were being held.

Information for this article was contributed by Nick Miroff of The Washington Post.

Business on 04/07/2018

Print Headline: Immigration raid at Tennessee meat plant nets 97 aliens

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