Is Mississippi Next?

Published On: Donate

A recent study from the University of Alabama’s Center for Business and Economic Research found that the implementation of the Alabama’s new anti-immigration law could result in the state losing between $2.3 and $10.8 billion in gross domestic product. Despite these jaw-dropping figures, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has now endorsed House Bill 488, legislation that mirrors the Alabama law that is moving the Mississippi state legislature.

Based on 2010 figures, an estimated 45,000 undocumented immigrants live in Mississippi. These are not large numbers when you remember that the state has 3 million residents. Undocumented immigrants make up 1.5% of the overall state population.

However, last Friday Mississippi took a step towards becoming the first state to replicate Alabama’s disastrous immigration law. The House Judiciary B Committee passed the bill by a 15-6 vote. The bill now moves to another committee for consideration.

While the bill eliminates or rewrites some of the most controversial provisions of the Alabama law, it still includes a number of problematic provisions. The bill would ask law enforcement officials to check an individual’s immigration status when there is “reasonable suspicion” that the person could be undocumented. This provision puts at risk the safety of Mississippi’s communities. It would make immigrants reluctant to report crimes in fear that doing so would provide law enforcement with a chance to harass them regarding their legal status.

The bill also requires schools to inquire about the birthplace of their students and report to the state the number of undocumented children in attendance. This would likely have a chilling effect of immigrant families and impact the school’s student retention rate.

Like the Alabama law, the Mississippi measure would strip immigrants of their dignity by forcing them to live in fear of detection and it will cause many immigrants to leave the state in search of a safer setting for their families. These events will hurt not only immigrants, but also the communities they leave behind as they take with them their vital economic, cultural, and social contributions.

LIRS needs your help to fight back against this bill. Voice your concerns by calling Governor Bryant’s office at (601) 359-3150 or by calling your legislators at (601) 359-3770 or (601) 359-3770. Write us at dc@lirs.org or post to our Facebook or Twitter account with feedback.

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