Panel debates proposed new immigration bill

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Students, legislators and immigrant rights acitivists gathered at Southern Miss Friday evening to debate Mississippi's controversial new, Arizona-style, immigration reform bill.  A forum titled, Mi Casa No Es Su Casa: An intelligent discussion on the immigration issue and Mississippi's response featured proponents and opponents of Senate Bill 2179.

That proposed legislation would allow law officers to inquire about a person's immigration status if they are engaged in some alleged criminal or illegal activity. Different versions of the bill have passed both the House and Senate.

It's currently in a conference committee.

"They (law enforcement) can't just profile someone as you'll hear the critics of this bill often argue," said Sen. Joey Fillingane, the lead author of the bill.

"It's a very xenophobic bill and it would mean pressures on (city and county) law enforcement to go out and enforce laws they're unfamiliar with," said Bill Chandler, executive director of the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA).

A total of eight panelists were on hand to answer questions about the bill and other issues related to immigration reform.

Copyright 2011 WDAM. All rights reserved.