Cardinal visits migrant families impacted by ICE raids at Mississippi food plants


Cardinal Alvaro Ramazzini of Guatemala, is greeted by a Guatemalan immigrant parishioner, at St. Anne Catholic Church in Carthage, Friday evening, Dec. 20, 2019, prior to a listening session with those impacted by the August 7 arrests by immigration agents at seven Mississippi food processing plants. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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

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.

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

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