Lawmakers consider tough new illegal immigrant bill - - Jackson, MS

Lawmakers consider tough new illegal immigrant bill

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JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - A controversial measure is up for discussion at the State Capitol. Mississippi is looking to pass its own version of Arizona's tough new law cracking down on illegal immigrants in this country.

The Arizona law has created a national firestorm and is described as the broadest and strictest piece of legislation in years. Now Mississippi has it's own version.

 A 2006 report from the Mississippi State Auditor put the Magnolia state's share of the illegal immigrant population at 50,000 that cost taxpayers about $25 million dollars. But the numbers vary.

The Senate Judiciary "A" Committee is getting feedback on what it will cost to enforce a tougher law on illegals, as well as the economic impact of illegal immigration on state resources. According to the committee chairman,  Republican District 41 Senator Joey Fillingane, "There are all kind of ramifications for an Arizona-style bill and that's why we are having these hearings today and tomorrow to hear from those very much in favor of the bill and those this afternoon who are very much opposed to it."

 Tuesday Commissioner of Public Safety Steve Simpson and the Madison County sheriff expressed concerns over unfunded mandates. According to Simpson, "With the budget crisis in our nation and our state, we are stretched very thin right now and do not need a lot of unfunded new mandates on us."

Critics of the measure were also in attendance and expressed their concerns about racial profiling and harassment.  According to Mary Townsend of Biloxi, "The vast majority of the immigrants in this state are good hard working people, family people, church going people who are here to try to make a better life for themselves and their families."

Recently the Justice Department filed a lawsuit claiming Arizona's illegal immigration law is unconstitutional because regulation of immigration comes under the federal domain.

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