The spotlight of controversy shining on Alabama last year over immigration laws is now shifting its focus across state lines. A piece of legislation has been proposed to enact a Mississippi law similar to Alabama's.
"It is something that Mississippi needs to look at," said Rep. Becky Currie of Brookhaven, who introduced the bill.
If passed, new laws will require legal identification for anyone who may be pulled over during a traffic stop and also require legal documents like birth certificates and immunization records for school children.
"This is just a way of saying you're welcome to live in our country; you're welcome to work in our country, but be legal," said Currie. "That's all we're asking. Be legal."
Some people are not buying that argument and are coming out against the bill. The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Alabama, is leading the fight against it.
"The anti-immigrant, really anti-Latino nature of this law has brought out the worst in folks in our state, emboldening racism and hate," said
Mary Bauer, the center's legal director.
Bauer claims Mississippi will face many of the same problems as Alabama, with children being pulled from schools, legal populations of minority groups leaving and a loss of millions, if not billions in economic development.
"It's impossible to calculate the losses of the businesses who will look elsewhere because of this law, because they don't want their foreign personnel to have to live in a state with such a law," Bauer said.
Currie says the bill is not a form of racism or profiling and won't set the state back in the area of development. She says it's simply a way to give legal residents the opportunity for jobs currently held by those who are illegal.
"For us to spend millions and millions of dollars on people who came here illegally, possibly stole Social Security numbers, you know, at what point are we going to stop?" said Currie.
If the bill passes, the SPLC says it will challenge it in federal court. Meanwhile, there's also a bill in the Mississippi Senate which would prohibit illegals from receiving financial aid from state universities and colleges. Both bills are currently in committees.