Supreme Court immigration ruling has local impact

LAUREL, MS (WDAM) - "They left, it's like, a loophole. A law is a law but there's always a way of going around it,"said Pastor Roberto Velez, of Laurel's predominantly Hispanic Peniel Christian Church of Monday's United States Supreme Court ruling that ruled it was constitutional to require police to find out if any person they stop is in the country illegally - as long as they have probable cause. This specific portion of the law has been nicknamed the "show-me-your-papers" provision.

"It does affect us, and what if all states follow suit?" asks Velez.

Show-me-your-papers styled laws have failed to pass in the Mississippi legislature multiple times, the most recent attempt passed the House but failed in the Senate in April. But Monday's decision gives anyone in Mississippi who looks Hispanic - citizen or not - reason to be on alert, Velez says.

"My concern? It's easy - who will define what probable cause is when they're stopped? How do you define it? I stopped him because he failed to yield, I stopped him because he failed to turn his signal light on. Or I stopped him because he was slightly brown, black hair, olive complexion, Hispanic and I had a hunch," said Velez.

"If we stop an individual most of the time it's fairly easy to determine if somebody is legal or not," said Laurel Police Department Captain Tommy Cox. "If you stop somebody for an infraction and they look Hispanic, can't provide you with a drivers license, any type of identification, anything other than maybe a work I. D., well then you gonna ask some further questions."

But even if the law passes in Mississippi saying police can police for illegal immigrants, Cox says more would need to be done for the community to feel an impact.

"The law sounds great, we don't want illegals here. But from our perspective, unless you put something in place to help us with deportation ... we don't have an airplane, there's not a Laurel Police bus that we can put people on and deport 'em."