Mississippi immigrants and advocates fear impact of proposed leg - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi immigrants and advocates fear impact of proposed legislation

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Immigration advocates are concerned that proposed state legislation is only adding fuel to the fire of federal measures.

The Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance has a short list of what they'd like to see passed this legislative session, but now the big focus is on stopping what they believe is anti-immigration racial profiling legislation.

Wednesday, the U.S. Justice Department demanded documents and threatened subpoenas to 23 cities, including Jackson, Mississippi. They want proof that the cities aren't unlawfully restricting information sharing by its law enforcement officer with federal immigration authorities. That, they say, would be in violation of federal immigration law.

"The role that Mississippi plays in it is that they are to me, some of the legislators are feeding on this fear that the federal government is spouting in the country," said Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance Legal Projects Director Patricia Ice.

These immigrants and their advocates say they believe the capital city is the target of parts of House Bill 1506. Jackson has an ordinance to prevent racial and ethnic profiling. But it does note that police officers can't ask for immigration status.

The bill would require them to do so and that could have a personal effect for 15-year-old Yizel Contreras Torres.

"It could affect us a lot because if the police knows we are immigrants, my family could be torn apart," explained Torres. "My dad could go back to Mexico, my mom as well. And me and my brother don't know if we're going to be accepted or alone or what we're going to do."

The teen says she's always felt the stigma of living in the state as a family of immigrants.

"I knew this would happen one day," she said.

House Bill 1506 would also impose sanctions on employers who hire undocumented immigrants.

Nationally, you've likely heard about DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. With uncertainty surrounding an immigration deal, DACA recipients are in limbo. 

MIRA says it creates another layer of uncertainty for many immigrants in the state.

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