Mississippi politicians want immigration law similar to Arizona

By Karrie Leggett - email

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - A new law in Arizona, once approved, will require police to investigate the immigration status of anyone they reasonably suspect may be in the country illegally, and now Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant wants that law in Mississippi.

"So, I think you are going to see an Arizona-type law here in Mississippi," said Bryant. "We're not a border state, so we will have to change it somewhat, but certainly we are going to say you should not violate our federal laws and come to state of Mississippi and expect to be welcomed."

Bryant believes Mississippi's problem with illegal immigrants is not as large as Arizona's, but Bryant says the problem we do have is affecting our state's economy.

"We've got about 50 to 70,000 illegal immigrants in the state," he said. "It costs tax payers about $25 million a year, and that is something that our budget just can not afford at these tight times."

Some local Hattiesburg residents seem to agree.

"There are too many people who are reaping the benefits from the tax payers of Mississippi," said Hattiesburg resident Patricia Rester.

"Basically, they are costing Mississippi too much money in taxes and they are not paying taxes to be here," said Melanie Bradley.

Some feel the law would promote racial profiling and violate civil rights.

"Immigration is certainly an issue, but I think that with most of the laws in Arizona," said resident Reese Matthews. "I think it affects people's civil liberties. I think given the past 10 years of neo-conservative agendas in America, that anything that affects civil liberties and powers and law enforcement that would allow racial profiling of people should be opposed."

Senator Chris McDaniel of Laurel  feels this law is only about protecting tax payers.

"These issues are not about race; they have never been about race," he said. "Let's forget about race. Let's talk about real world application of a law in Arizona that on its face is racially neutral; on its face specifically prohibits any type of racist conduct. So, don't tell me that law is racist. Let's talk about the real world application and what is happening to the tax payers of this country."

Much of the controversy surrounding the Arizona law has been over whether it violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

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