Immigration Bill Set for Debate

By: Mike McDaniel Email
By: Mike McDaniel Email

As long as House Bill 488 has life, it will face opposition from immigrant advocacy groups.

"Unfortunately, these kind of bills have unintended consequences," said Pedro Galdamez, of the Latin American Business Association.

The bill in question was written by Rep. Becky Currie and supported by Gov. Phil Bryant. It seeks to reform illegal immigration laws in Mississippi.

The bill is modeled after an Alabama law that went into effect last year and continues to be fought.

Since the bill was first filed at the state capitol, numerous groups have come out against it. Business leaders from the Hispanic and Latino communities rallied in opposition.

"The bill, HB 488, will have no positive impact whatsoever for business in our state not only regarding how it effects the Latin community but also how it affects the overall economic situation of Mississippi," Galdamez said.

Galdamez says the bill is an attack on the minority group and will only end up hurting the state's hospitality image to new business.

When the bill first started getting traction at the capitol, Bryant made it clear he would sign it if it reached his desk.

"We just simply ought to have the right, responsibility as a state," Bryant said. "If we're going to ignore this federal law, what other federal laws should be began to ignore?"

If Mississippi's version of the law actually becomes law, it may go straight to a courtroom since provisions in the Alabama law have been blocked by a court of appeals.

Among others, those provisions include requiring schools to check the immigration status of all children. The bill would also require police to check for immigration status during traffic stops.

"The psychological effects of this bill will generate fear among both documented and undocumented peoples," said Sara del Castillo of Youth United Organizers.

Advocates say reform is needed, but in its current form will do more harm than good.

"We want legislators to engage in conversation with us, because when they judge our communities without getting to know us, they do not define our communities, but they define themselves," said del Castillo..

The bill is currently in the House of Representatives awaiting debate on the floor. That's expected to happen in the next couple of days. If passed, it'll head to the Senate.


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