On Wednesday, March 14, 2012, the Mississippi House passed HB 488. In order to execute its passage, the final bill was heavily edited from the originally introduced version. This was likely due to how Mississippi lawmakers have observed the way other punitive state immigration laws have fared since implementation. LIRS joins faith leaders and organizations like the Mississippi Sheriffs’ Association, building contractors and agricultural groups, which have spoken out against the bill for its shortsightedness and the financial burden it will impose.
The final legislation eliminated some problematic provisions such as requiring public schools to count undocumented immigrants, allowing law enforcement to inquire about a person’s immigration status at a traffic stop and providing municipal utilities with the freedom to refuse power, water, sewer and other services to undocumented immigrants.
However, the Mississippi Senate should oppose HB 488 because many harmful provisions remain in the bill. The bill still requires police to check the immigration status of individuals that are arrested when law enforcement has reasonable suspicion the person is undocumented. Additionally, the bill prohibits undocumented individuals from entering into business transactions with the state, including applying for a driver’s license or identification card.
We have already seen other states become places where immigrants live in fear of law enforcement, children no longer show up at school and businesses struggle. For example, in Georgia where a large part of the economy is based on agriculture, farmers cannot find workers to pick their crops. Georgia’s migrant workers used to fill that need before their anti-immigrant bill went into effect last year.
The bill faces an April 3 deadline for consideration by a Senate committee. Join us in opposing harmful state legislation in your state and instead urge lawmakers to support comprehensive immigration reform.