ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – About 30 children were abandoned after immigration agents arrested their parents in a poultry plant raid and took them away to face possible deportation.
Some of the children were left behind at day-care facilities, and a church arranged care for the children after the raid.
The mayor said what happened to the children was a shame.
"A lot of those families had kids in day care in different places, and they didn't know why Mommy and Daddy didn't come pick them up," Arkadelphia Mayor Charles Hollingshead said.
Federal agents arrested 119 people Tuesday in a raid that was triggered after a former worker at Petit Jean Poultry (search) said she supplied others with fake identification cards.
Temple Black, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (search) office in New Orleans, said Friday that each person arrested was asked whether they had children and they all said they did not.
"We interviewed every person and asked that specific question and we were told that there were none," he said.
Black later said that some of those arrested told agents that their children were with relatives. Children are normally placed with relatives until their parents are either returned to the community or deported.
Clark County Sheriff Troy Tucker said agents failed to tell his agency about the raid. If they had, deputies would have made sure the immigration officials knew about the children, some of whom had been in the local public schools for years, he said.
"The kids were just left," Tucker said. "They're not doing their job by simply questioning them and asking them whether they have children and not contacting anyone locally."
Some of the workers agreed to deportation and others have challenged their arrests. Those fighting deportation were released pending hearings and some have returned to Arkadelphia.