Immigration debate heats up in Mississippi - - Jackson, MS

Immigration debate heats up in Mississippi

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By Ashley Conroy - email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - As the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance held a rally at the capitol on Thursday, state elected officials voiced their opinions about immigration at the Neshoba County Fair.

On Friday, this initiated topic of debate for some lawmakers like State Senator Lee Yancey (R)-Brandon.

Sen. Yancey says he supports a path to legal "documented" citizenship into the United States, but does not support illegal immigrants crossing the borders and ultimately crossing Mississippi's borders.

"Being a fiscal conservative, what I want to do is make sure we spend tax payers money as efficiently as we possibly," Sen. Yancey said.

Sen. Yancey bases his argument off of a report that was published by Lieutenant Governor, Phil Bryant when he was state auditor.

In the report, it says illegal immigrants' cost Mississippi taxpayers around $25 million dollars annually.

It says "undocumented" immigrants contribute around $44 million annually through sales and income tax. However, it says other taxes that citizens have to pay to the state, illegals' don't have to contribute. Therefore, it says the cost to offset this amount equals around $25 million.

"We've got to plug some of these holes and people who aren't citizens of the state of Mississippi who have sneaked into our country can't expect to have the red carpet rolled out for them," said Sen. Yancey.

Meantime, MIRA Director Bill Chandler has been advocating for immigrants rights for decades and says stricter policy in Mississippi would create "racial" profiling.

"And everybody that we're talking about that is inside the United States, they are human beings, they are people, and they are protected by the constitution," Chandler said.

Chandler says the perception of "undocumented" immigrants entering the borders of the U.S. jumping fences is not accurate. Rather, he says most undocumented persons are those that work and pay taxes like everyone else.

"The sad part about it, I would say about 100 percent of those opposed to immigration, really don't understand it."

In 2008, the Mississippi Legislature passed the "E-Verify" employment verification system that asks employers to check immigration status of workers.

Lt. Governor Bryant was clear on Thursday, he would do whatever he could to pass a similar bill to Arizona's.

Meantime, Arizona's law active, but a judge held injunctions against certain components of the measure.

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