Immigration law shaping up to be a big issue of Mississippi's 2011 elections

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August 6, 2010

By Greg Janetka

JACKSON, Mississippi: While most states are quickly approaching state legislative elections on November 2, Mississippi will not hold its elections until next year. However, election issues are already shaping up and if some politicians have their way, immigration law is going to be a big one.

On August 2, around 200 people showed up a meeting on immigration law at the Madison Square Center for the Arts. Among the speakers was Mississippi Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant. He pressed for a law similar to the Arizona law which has drawn nationwide attention, explaining, "We're not a border state so we will have to change it somewhat, but certainly we are going to say you should not violate our federal laws and come to state of Mississippi and expect to be welcomed." Stressing the impact of illegal immigrants on taxpayers, he stated that Mississippi has between 50 to 70 thousand illegal immigrants, costing the state nearly $25 million a year.[1] As illegal immigrants are undocumented, it is difficult to get an accurate figure, with some reports putting the state's total at closer to 8,000.[2]

In July, Jackson City Councilman Chokwe Lumumba proposed an ordinance discouraging police and other employees from questioning the immigration status of those seeking services. Bryant struck back, warning that the proposal could violate state law. Lumumba said he drafted it in direct response to the Arizona law.[3]

Meanwhile, First-term state Rep. Becky Currie has stated she has a bill already crafted and ready to go which she says is essentially the same as Arizona's.[4] The legislature is convened for the year and will begin their next session in January.

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