Business community comes out against house immigration bill - - Jackson, MS

Business community comes out against house immigration bill

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

As long as House Bill 488 has life, many folks will do all they can to fight against it.  

"Unfortunately these kind of bills have unintended consequences," said Pedro Galdamez.

That bill in question was written by representative Becky Currie and supported by Governor Phil Bryant. It seeks to reform illegal immigration laws in Mississippi. The bill is modeled after the controversial Alabama law which went into affect last year and continues to be fought against.

Since the bill was first filed at the state capitol, numerous groups have come out against it and Tuesday was no different as business leaders from the Hispanic and Latino communities rallied in opposition.  

"The bill, House Bill 488, will have no positive impact whatsoever for business in our state not only regarding how it effects the Latin community but also how it effects the overall economic situation of Mississippi," said Galdamez, who is with the Latin American Business Association.

Galdamez says the bill is an attack on the minority group and will only end up hurting the state's hospitality image to new business. When the bill first started getting traction at the capitol, Governor Bryant made it clear, he would sign it if it reached his desk.  

"We just simply ought to have the right, responsibility as a state to identify people who have violated federal laws. If we're going to ignore this federal law, what other federal laws should we began to ignore," said Bryant.

If Mississippi's version of the law actually becomes law, it may go straight to a courtroom since provisions in the Alabama law have been blocked by a court of appeals. Among others, those provisions include requiring schools to check the immigration status of all children. The bill would also require police to check for immigration status during traffic stops.  

"The psychological effects of this bill will generate fear among both documented and undocumented peoples," said Sara del Castillo with Youth United Organizers.

Advocates say reform is needed, but in its current form will do more harm than good and they're asking lawmakers to open their ears before closing their minds.  

"We want legislators to engage in conversation with us because when they judge our communities without getting to know us they do not define our communities, but they define themselves," said Castillo.

The bill is currently in the House of Representatives awaiting debate on the floor. That's expected to happen in the next couple of days. If passed, it will head to the Senate. 

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