Howard Industries found itself at the center of activity again Tuesday.
Hundreds of job applicants lined up, eager to take advantage of the sudden job openings at the plant located in Jones County, where the unemployment rate is 6.3 percent.
ICE agents on Monday seized 595 plant workers suspected of being in the country illegally. Several workers, who did not identify themselves, said Tuesday they were working and trying to keep the plant operational in the wake of the sudden loss of co-workers.
They said it was common knowledge many of their co-workers were suspected to be illegal.
It’s an idea that maddens Samantha Stevens, 18, of Heidelberg, who was among those who pulled up to Avenue A across from the plant’s entrance throughout the day. She said she has been unable to find a job since she graduated from Heidelberg High School in the spring and blames, in part, the willingness of companies to hire illegal workers.
Gwendolyn Watkins, 40, of Stonewall said she drove 40 miles to Laurel to fill out an application with the electronics maker. She worked at Tower Automotive in Meridian as a production worker for eight months before job cuts in June left her unemployed.
She now hopes to get on at Howard, and said that, while “everyone needs a job,” she believes that legal workers should be the priority.