Guatemalan cardinal to visit Mississippi after migrant raids


Two people are taken into custody at a Koch Foods Inc. plant in Morton, Miss., on 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)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Guatemalan cardinal who advocates for migrants will visit Mississippi following immigration raids last summer that prompted 680 arrests.

The Rev. Roberto Mena, who pastors some Catholic churches in Mississippi affected by the raids, announced the visit Saturday.

Pope Francis raised Alvaro Ramazzini to the rank of cardinal in October. He’s the bishop of Huehuetenango in Guatemala, a region of that Central American country that has sent many migrants to the U.S. Ramazzini has spoken out for decades against exploitation of poor rural people in regions he has ministered to.

A majority of those arrested in the raids at seven Mississippi chicken processing plants in August was Guatemalan, with some speaking Mayan dialects instead of Spanish. Of those arrested, at least 119 have been charged criminally, while others are jailed in Louisiana and Mississippi awaiting deportation proceedings.

The raids were the largest conducted at American workplaces in at least a decade, and have brought scrutiny of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, especially because some children came home from school to find their parents gone.

Mena says Ramazzini is “coming to be present” with affected families. He is scheduled to meet with Bishop Joseph Kopacz of Jackson, Mississippi, in addition to lawyers and immigrant families. The cardinal also has scheduled a visit to a detention center in Louisiana.

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