Four juveniles detained in Tuesday's immigration raid at a Greenville, S.C., poultry plant have returned to their families in Mexico and Guatemala.
Two others have been released to legal caregivers and are expected to appear later before an immigration judge, who will decide whether to deport them.
Their employment at the House of Raeford Farms plant appears to violate S.C. labor law, which prohibits people younger than 18 from working in hazardous jobs such as poultry processing.
In all, federal authorities arrested 331 workers at the plant, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement. About a quarter have been released for humanitarian reasons, such as illness or caring for children. They're under orders to appear later before judges.
The rest have been interviewed and transferred to detention facilities in Georgia, where they await deportation. They'll have the option of appearing before immigration judges or simply agreeing that they broke the law. Those who do the latter could be returned to their home countries within a month or two.
Federal authorities say they're continuing their investigation into House of Raeford's hiring practices, with a focus on determining who allowed illegal immigrants to work at the plant.
“We've gathered evidence,” said ICE spokeswoman Barbara Gonzalez. “We'll be sorting through the evidence. And we'll be going where the evidence takes us.”