The University of Tennessee College of Law students, faculty, and staff began mobilizing Friday to offer assistance to suspected illegal immigrants detained in Grainger County by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Six students and two faculty members traveled to the Morristown area Friday to begin helping with translation and intake. The College of Law partnered with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition to also assist in drafting power of attorney documents for families of individuals in custody.
The actions of the College of Law come on the heels of a Thursday raid of the Southeastern Provision slaughterhouse located in Bean Station, Tenn. The Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to execute a federal criminal search warrant.
According to a report from the Washington Post, 10 people were arrested on federal criminal charges, one person was arrested on state charges and 86 immigrants were detained for being in the country illegally.
Nearly 30 of the arrestees remained in East Tennessee Friday afternoon.
In an email Friday, College of Law Dean Melanie Wilson shared information with faculty, staff, and students about possible next steps.
“Many of the families are left without the only wage earner in the family,” she wrote. “As a result, they are scared, confused, and in need of food and other necessities. Many do not speak English or not well. Many of you have expressed a desire to help.”
Wilson called on those who have interest to offer their time and their language skills, or items such as toiletries and non-perishable food.
“The lawyers and volunteers need help when talking to members of the families of detainees,” she wrote. “At least 150 families have been affected by the raid.”
Additional support for detainees from the College of Law is still being planned and is expected to continue throughout the weekend.
Community members interested in donating items or offering financial support can do so through the Diocese of Knoxville, Hispanic Ministry. The organization will continue collecting items through April 13.
Donations can be dropped off at 813 Northshore Drive, Suite 103 in Knoxville.