A Pine Belt lawmaker who heads up a group that opposes illegal immigration is defending the organization's website, which some critics at the national level have called offensive and racist.
State Rep. Mike Lott of Petal is executive director of the Mississippi Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement, or MFIRE.
Among the pictures on the website are a Hispanic man with several tattoos and three young Hispanic men throwing gang signs. There is also a caption which reads:"Welcome to the United States of America. Press "1" for English. Press "2" to disconnect until you learn to speak English."
State Rep. Jim Evans, co-founder of Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, accused MFIRE of being "the KKK reconstructed."
But Lott calls the website an educational tool for voters and lawmakers.
"Our website isn't racist," he says. "We have nothing against any race or any particular group of people. We're talking about upholding the law. It's about respecting American immigration law. And it's not just the illegal aliens. Our website has information about employers who are breaking the law as well."
Lott has filed several immigration reforms bills in the past, only to see them die in the Legislature. He says he plans to file another next next year similar to federal laws requiring employers to hire only U.S. citizens or face penalties.