A Nation Divided: Illegal immigration in Mississippi - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

A Nation Divided: Illegal immigration in Mississippi

By Cheryl Lasseter - bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - If you want to know how many undocumented individuals are housed in Mississippi, you may get a wide spectrum of answers.

The informational clearing house website statemaster.com says Mississippi has about 8,000 workers, and we're ranked 39th in the country. That's fewer than Alabama, which charts 24,000 illegals, and more than Louisiana, which may have as few as 5,000.

But Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant says Mississippi's numbers were much larger when he spearheaded a study back in 2006, and they're only growing. "50,000 illegal immigrants, if I remember correctly, that cost us $25 million," he says.

He says most of the costs are incurred when the immigrants work, then wire their money back to their homeland. There's also the cost for their healthcare and for providing additional law enforcement. "They have a lot of cash, so they will be robbed, and it's not reported. They end up in the hospital, it's a huge problem for law enforcement in our state."

In a letter drafted Tuesday to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, Governor Bryant says he plans to fight for the adoption of laws in Mississippi similar to that which just passed in Arizona.

But the argument has been made before: immigrants are hard working people who will eagerly take any job, thus helping us. We asked some WLBT viewers how they feel about immigrants that are working here illegally.

"I think it's illegal to have illegal immigrants in the country," says Jackson business owner George Bell. "The president should take immediate action to close the border down."

"As long as they're legal they should be able to work.  If not, I don't think they should be able to," says Titania Morris of Utica.

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