MADISON, MS (WLBT) – The hot topic of immigration was the focus of a forum Monday night at the Madison Cultural Center.
Organization opposed to illegal immigrants living and working in Mississippi want state immigration laws strengthened.
Hundreds attended the town hall meeting where M-FIRE or the Mississippi Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement and the Mississippi Tea Party are leading the charge against illegal immigrants living and working in Mississippi.
Conservative speakers shared their views.
A second district congressional candidate criticized his opponent claiming that he does not represent the entire district and supports immigrant rights
"Bill Marcy is calling Bennie Thompson a racist," said Republican candidate Bill Marcy.
Speaker after speaker, including the lieutenant governor, sent a message to state officials that illegal immigration is a danger and burden on the state.
"We did a report in 2006 when I was state auditor to show the cost of illegal immigration is at $25 million a year and the struggle that we're having without budget situation right now it's important to know there is a cost to those that come here illegally," said Lt. Governor Phil Bryant.
"We just can't afford to let people come in at will. We have to seal our borders. We have to have our troops on the borders, and it has to be continued," said Charles Benson, an M-FIRE member from Madison county.
Representatives with the Mississippi Immigration Rights Alliance did not attend the rally but said it appeared to be a political effort to pander to racism to gather votes.
"A hard core anti-immigrant organization which is closely associated with an organization identified by the southern poverty law center as being a white supremacist organization," said Mississippi Immigration Rights Alliance Executive Director Bill Chandler.
M-FIRE said it stands with Arizona's legislative efforts to protect its borders and strictly enforce immigration laws.
"Legal immigrants made America great and that's what we propose legal and orderly immigration. We are concerned that the present administration in Washington has totally dropped the ball as far as in regards to securing our borders. We're concerned about the financial cost involved," said M-FIRE representative Mark Mayfield.
Republican State Representative Becky Currie of Brookhaven told the crowd that she plans to introduce a bill in the upcoming session similar to Arizona's controversial immigration law.
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