Bill seeking immigration reform modeled after Alabama - - Jackson, MS

Bill seeking immigration reform modeled after Alabama

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The spotlight of controversy shinning on Alabama last year over immigration laws is now shifting it's focus across state lines.

This after a piece of legislation is looking to put Alabama's law into effect in Mississippi.  

"It is something that Mississippi needs to look at," said Republican Representative Becky Currie of Brookhaven who introduced the bill.

If passed, new laws will require legal identification for anyone who may be pulled over during a traffic stop and also require legal documents like birth certificates and immunization records for school children.  

"This is just a way of saying you're welcome to live in our country, you're welcome to work in our country but be legal. That's all we're asking. Be legal," Rep. Currie said.

Some people are not buying that argument and are coming out against the bill.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Alabama is leading the fight against it.  

"The anti-immigrant, really anti-Latino nature of this law has brought out the worst in folks in our state emboldening racism and hate," said SPLC legal director Mary Bauer.

Bauer says Mississippi will face many of the same problems as Alabama, with children being pulled from schools, legal populations of minority groups leaving and a loss of millions, if not billions in economic development.  

"It's impossible to calculate the losses of the businesses who will look elsewhere because of this law, because they don't want their foreign personnel to have to live in a state with such a law," Bauer said.

Currie says the bill is not a form or racism or profiling and won't set the state back in the area of development.

She says it's simply a way to give legal residents the opportunity for jobs currently held by those who are illegal.  

"For us to spend millions and millions of dollars on people who came her illegally, possibly stole social security numbers, you know, at what point are we going to stop," Currie said.

If the bill passes, Bauer says the center will challenge it in federal court.

Meanwhile, there's also a bill in the Mississippi Senate, introduced by Republican Senator Joey Fillingane of Sumrall, which would prohibit illegals from receiving financial aid from state universities and colleges.

Both bills are currently in committees.

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