Reaction to Mississippi Immigration Bill

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A bill has been proposed in the Mississippi Legislature to crack down on illegal immigration in the state.

The bill is modeled after a similar bill that passed in Alabama in 2011. It has been called one of the most restrictive laws in the country and has caused great controversy.

Wade Jones, president of the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation, said the impact
could be that the bill could actually stop jobs from coming to Mississippi. But Jones said he doesn't see it having a huge impact on the east central part of the state.

Jones says only about two and a half percent of Lauderdale County's population is Hispanic, and many of them are here legally. So he doesn't expect a major effect economically for this area, whether the bill passes or not.

"It appears that this is simply taking the federal laws on immigration, on aliens and illegal immigrants, and making sure at the state level, every agency that has a responsibility for identifying an illegal alien and turning that person over to the proper agencies," said Jones. "I think that is what this is intended to do, is to further enforce federal law in Mississippi."

Jones says there might be a greater impact in other parts of the state, where immigrant workers are more heavily used.

If the bill is passed, the Southern Poverty Law Center has said it will sue.

Half of Mississippi's foreign-born population has moved here since 2000, many illegally. A recent study from then-Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant estimated about 49,000 illegal immigrants total in the state.