Immigration Bill Protest

By: Mike McDaniel
By: Mike McDaniel

You can now add more groups to the long and ever growing list of those disapproving of perhaps the most controversial piece of legislation at the state capitol, House Bill 488, also known as the immigration bill.

"We are asking for a fair and equitable immigration reform bill," said Mayor Nancy Chambers of Forest.

They're members of statewide associations representing city and county government, law enforcement, agriculture and business. Mayor Chambers, who's also the current president of the Mississippi Municipal League, says they're not against immigration reform, but rather what they say are unfunded mandates in the bill.

"We recognize that the enforcement of any immigration bill is going to be on the backs of law enforcement and on the backs of municipalities to provide the money that law enforcement needs," said Chambers.

"There's no way to fund this bill," said Clarke County Sheriff Todd Kemp, who's also with the state sheriff's association.

Kemp says the bill, in current form, would lead to overcrowding in jails and become a financial burden to local residents.

"Where's all this money going to come from? It's going to come from me and you and everybody else who's paying taxes," said Kemp.

The bills author, Representative Becky Currie says that's just not the case.

"I think it will save taxpayers money in the long run," said Currie, a republican from Brookhaven.

Currie says taxpayers already foot the bill for illegal immigrants through state services like healthcare and education. She says the hundreds of millions of dollars saved could be placed where needed.

"I don't believe that it's going to be as much of a problem to municipalities as they really think that it is," said Currie.

As groups line up in opposition, folks like Mayor Chambers and Sheriff Kemp say they at least want to give input before an immigration reform bill becomes law.

"We're just asking, let us come to the table. Lets us give some contributions. Let's come up with a bill that will not put an undue burden on local taxpayers," said Chambers.

The Mississippi Economic Council is also coming out against the bill through a letter sent to Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves. The bill already passed the house, and Wednesday, Reeves assigned the bill to a senate judiciary committee for further review.

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