Sessions ‘not shedding any tears’ over ICD raid on TN meatpacking plant

Speaking at a law enforcement conference in Gatlinburg, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised to continue being strict on illegal immigration and said he’s “not shedding any tears”    over the recent ICE raid on a meatpacking plant in Grainger County, reports the News Sentinel.

Newly appointed U.S. District Attorney Doug Overbey introduced Sessions, who delivered a 25-minute speech including criticism of the “fuzzy-headed left” as well as promising to add 35 prosecutors and 18 immigration judges to border states to deal with backlogs on immigration cases.

The Bean Station, Tennessee raid happened April 5 when agents detained 97 workers at the Southeastern Provision meatpacking plant on Helton Road. Of those detained, 42 remain held in a federal detention center in Louisiana under threat of deportation, according to Stephanie Teatro, co-director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. 

Another 10 face federal charges of defying previous deportation orders.

“You don’t get to get an advantage in this country by having large numbers of illegal workers working for you,” Sessions said of the plant. “I’m not shedding tears around this. You don’t get to benefit from being in this country and looking around the world for the cheapest worker you can find. That’s just not good policy for this country.”

Teatro said Sessions should have mentioned that the employer, Southeastern Provision, should also be held responsible for the raid.

“Ironically, the employer is the only character in this story that hasn’t paid any price – he has yet to be arrested or face charges and the plant is still operational,” she said in an emailed response. “ICE could have decided to audit this employer, and forced him to pay fines. Instead, ICE made a decision to engage in the most aggressive, violent form of enforcement it could take at this worksite, leaving 160 children without a parent from one day to the next.”

… Bishop Richard F. Stika, of the Diocese of Knoxville, responded in a news release, to Sessions’ remarks:

“I have seen tears shed by families torn apart by the aggressive enforcement of immigration laws under this and previous administrations. I again ask our lawmakers to address this issue in a dignified way.”

… State Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville, said the Bean Station raid was unfortunate and said Congress is to blame for the nation’s immigration woes because it hasn’t fixed a broken system…. “If you have a heart, nobody likes to see that … but we have laws in this country and they have to be followed.”

… State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey, R-Knoxville, agreed, and said the country isn’t able to take care of the world.

“My thing is we need to be more consistent,” she said. “If we’re going to have laws we need to enforce them. If we have them and don’t use them then we need to change them.”

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