Henry County, GA (WGCL ) — Rumors of I.C.E. raids caused mass hysteria in metro Atlanta factories. Witnesses described a stampede as hundreds of workers ran out of Victory Foods chicken processing in Gainesville.
“All of us work with a knife, so the big fear was that someone could fall because it was like a human stampede,” said one of the workers who wanted to keep his identity hidden.
“When they came out, many of them were still wearing work coats and their protective helmets. Everyone ran out scared.” said Mario Diaz a resident who worked close by.
While I.C.E. has confirmed that they were not conducting a raid in the area, just the rumor of a raid was enough to get the workers at Victory Foods saying they weren’t taking any chances.
“I think everyone in the community is dealing with a lot of fear and uncertainty. There is a lot of rumors of what could happen, the possibility of raids, the possibility is I.C.E. knocking on your door”, said immigration attorney Sarah Owings.
Owings says recent changes in immigration law even has those here legally on edge because the expedited deportation rules are now being implemented for anyone who does not have proof that they’ve been in the country for at least two years.
“The image just kinda speaks to the heart of people’s fears and the idea that their children could be left unprotected. That you don’t know when you walk out the door if you would be returning at night”, added Owings.
Sentiments echoed by many of the workers who were at the plant.
“Maybe people know, but we are scared. They watch for each other and protect each other,” said another worker who wanted to hide his identity.
“I live like two minutes from the plant so I took like seven people in my car when my car only fits four,” added another worker.