Immigration Bill a Reality | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Immigration Bill a Reality

Well, he signed it. Gov. Haley Barbour caved in to the screaming fury of conservative talk radio and the raging rant of phone calls and signed into law SB 2988, which makes an undocumented immigrant with a job in Mississippi a potential felon. The bill also makes employees who hire undocumented workers felons, with a punishment of up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Language in the bill requires employers to check the residential status of potential employees with the E-Verify system, available through the Department of Homeland Security.

Barbour said he believed that any employer who knowingly hires an illegal alien should be held accountable. He added, however, that the bill needs some clarification.

"While I have signed this legislation into law, I have serious concerns about specific provisions of the bill that could have unintended negative consequences. I urge the Legislature to make the necessary technical changes to ensure this bill will have the intended effect."

Barbour pointed out that the E-Verify system is a fledgling system that still has some serious holes. Even the federal government admitted it was not a reliable system.

Hinds County Sheriff Malcolm McMillin said the bill could fill his jail with immigrant workers without mandating any extra funding to pay for the new mouths and health-care costs. County supervisors already struggle with jail costs, and recently proposed inmates make their own co-payments, a proposal that may or may not prove constitutional.

Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance attorney Patricia Ice said the law unfairly prosecutes people for working.

"We're not too surprised the governor signed it," Ice said. "Some legislators I spoke to had their doubts because the governor is supposed to be pro-business, and this bill could hurt businesses, but this is an election year and Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and most Republicans have been pushing this legislation. Barbour probably felt he had to sign it."

Previous Comments

ID
68277
Comment

The JFP is right that Bryant, and conservative radio, pushed for this bill; however, to lay this at the feet of republicans is being less than truthful. It is time we started being fair and just when it come to reporting if we are to ever make real changes in gov't. You will see in the votes from both the House and the Senate that the bill passed with an overwhelming majority from BOTH parties - it is not like this was a partisan passage. Also, it would help the article if you framed the fact that Democrats are in control of every committee thus they have the power to do what they will with the bills a majority of the time. If we are going to truly become "progressive" so we can make real changes, we have to stop slanting news one way or the other when in fact Democrats had a major hand in passing this bill which is just as important to the fact that republicans wanted it too. We have to strive to point out the flaws in both parties when they pass flawed legislation like this bill. BOTH parties are equally culpable in this senseless bill! But, if you want to paint this as a republican thing that is the right of this paper.

Author
pikersam
Date
2008-03-19T21:24:44-06:00
ID
68278
Comment

Pike: Read the story again. The only mention of the word "Republicans" is in a Patricia Ice quote explaining why Barbour signed it. In the print edition, the Edit staff takes Dems to task pretty strongly, IMHO.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2008-03-20T08:29:27-06:00
ID
68279
Comment

Here's this week's Editorial. The law, essentially, amounts to feel-good legislation, created to help Republicans form a wedge issue and help timid Democrats appease Hispanic-leery voters and the whooping orangutans of talk radio. Many legislators held their nose very tightly while approving it. But they still voted for it. Shamefully. Byhalia Republican Tommy Woods asked how employers out in the field were supposed to check an employee’s documentation without a laptop or Internet. Woods didn’t get his question answered, but approved the bill anyway. Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, exclaimed that voters seemed more attentive to Mexicans than Medicaid—which is currently dying of starvation in Mississippi, by the way. Then putting politics first, he voted for it anyway. That's pretty nuanced, no? The fact is (going back to the original story) Haley is supposed to be smarter than this, and he could have vetoed it and gotten away with that politically -- in fact, it might have helped put him on the radar nationally.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2008-03-20T08:33:54-06:00
ID
68280
Comment

Actually, I blame supposedly progressive Democrats like David Blount and Steve Holland for caving on this bill, more than I do Republicans who tend to vote for this kind of legislation. The whole lot of 'em are playing politics, and the state will have to defend costly lawsuits over this. Mark my words.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-03-20T09:16:33-06:00
ID
68281
Comment

Well, that's another argument that Barbour could have made. I think it'd be good for both parties in this state to get past their fetish of passing unconstitutional laws that then have to be struck down (sometimes laughed at) in Federal court. Not that I expect that to change and not that we're the only state that does it. But it does seem to be a waste of everyone's time and energy.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2008-03-20T09:21:22-06:00
ID
68282
Comment

It's really a waste of taxpayer dollars, too. As I asked on Donna's entry yesterday under the JackBlog, why send an illegal immigrant to prison for a number of years and then deport him or her?

Author
golden eagle
Date
2008-03-20T10:17:12-06:00
ID
68283
Comment

Fair enough... I haven't picked up the print edition yet. And, I knew that ladd was highly critical of certain Dem's earlier this year. In this particular story it starts off saying conservative radio rants, and ends with Ice's biased (and uninformed) quote blaming Bryant and the Republicans which frames it as primarily a partisan issue on a quick read. I will check out the print copy. I was surprised by this piece having read many comments critical of those who were going to support some type of legislation like this by the JFP. I thought Bush and Lott had it right when they wanted to institute an amnesty program that would have phased in million of workers already here. But, that sure raised a lot of heck with the conservatives and liberals alike! It's like we (those that oppose amnesty) are blind to the contributions the illegal work force provides this country. If we had people willing to do many of the jobs, and do them as good, then we wouldn't have as big a problem, if you want to call it that, as we do. I certainly don't have the perfect answer; but, I know it isn't in stupid bills like this. Some of this stems from my belief that unless we begin to really put down our partisan guards (which do exist), and go after both parties equally on many, many issues then we will be stuck in the status quo that exist now form many more election cycles. Obama touched on it in his speech when he said: For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies. Sure this was on race; but, you can put so many buzz word issues into the same context which is what the parties want, so we will stay on the gerbil wheel running in place while they trip out on power plays and drama.

Author
pikersam
Date
2008-03-20T11:28:27-06:00
ID
68284
Comment

Pike: Yes, I like that sentiment and I agree with you. My point is that the piece isn't about "all Republicans," it's about Barbour signing it. Sure, Dems got it out of committee and there's clearly a lot of fear over that. I know Donna's getting a little sick of Bubba Holland and all the stupid tricks he likes to play with unconstitutional legislation. But the best person we have to deal with this kind of stuff in the state is Barbour. Truth is, he could have stuck up for Bush's brand of immigration reform and he'd probably come out smelling like roses, because he's established his eco-devo cred with a lot of people. He's supposed to be a bright guy, but here he's folding under this stupid pressure like everyone else. Why? Is talk radio gonna vote him out in a recall if he tried to make sense on the immigration issue? My thought on Barbour is that he has two choices -- remain utterly and completely partisan the way he's been his whole career (even as a lobbyist) or find a way to get to that gap you're talking about, Pike, before somebody else does. I'm of the opinion that he's a pretty good political strategist...he could start making a play right now for 2012 if he decided to figure out how to dance on the "third rail" that is immigration.

Author
Todd Stauffer
Date
2008-03-20T13:38:14-06:00
ID
68285
Comment

Actually, I blame supposedly progressive Democrats like David Blount and Steve Holland for caving on this bill, more than I do Republicans who tend to vote for this kind of legislation . . . . The whole lot of 'em are playing politics . . . Exactly, and it's even worse than that. The Dems didn't just "cave" on the bill, they enabled it in the first place. Recall Sen. Blount's eleventh-hour campaign mailers about how illegal immigrants were allegedly stealing jobs from Mississippians. No doubt about it, this is bipartisan bigotry. And they don't even have the guts to try to do something about outsourcing jobs and abandoning factories, which is how good-paying jobs are really "stolen" from Mississippi.

Author
GenShermansGhost
Date
2008-03-20T14:58:42-06:00
ID
68286
Comment

Yes, and it seems that Sen. Blount wants more people executed as well. With Democrats like this one ...

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-03-20T15:10:50-06:00
ID
68287
Comment

iTodd, I said "fair enough." that was me agreeing. I just think that an untrained JFP reader would ballyhoo this as another conservatives/Republicans gone bad story when we know that this bill crossed party lines. Your take on what Haley could have done is interesting, and I didn't look at the broader picture that way.

Author
pikersam
Date
2008-03-20T15:48:01-06:00
ID
68288
Comment

Has anyone seen the AmericanWorker.org commercials? I am concerned and afraid that a campaign like this will further divide blacks and Latinos. They have YouTube clips of the ads on their Web site, and the first thing you see on the Web site is this: 40% of the decline in Black employment is due to immigration. They also have a link to a research paper that they say "has proven that foreign workers are taking American's jobs and depressing wages. And while Americans from all backgrounds are being harmed, lower to middle income African American workers are being disproportionately affected." The link takes you to an abstract, and there is another link to a digest, but the paper itself has to be purchased in order to read it. If you meet certain guidelines, you can get it for free.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2008-03-20T22:19:15-06:00
ID
68289
Comment

and it seems that Sen. Blount wants more people executed as well. With Democrats like this one ... It makes you wonder, doesn't it? If the senator from Fondren and Belhaven can't be reasonable, who can? Or does Sen. Blount want to establish some "moderate" or "conservative" cred so that he can aim for statewide office some day? Another Dem who has me smoking (almost literally) this week is Hob Bryan from Amory, who is killing the tobacco tax because "the Governor is going to veto it anyway." Um, since when is it a bad thing to force your political opponents to take a stand? If David Blount = Richard White on immigration/death penalty and Hob Bryan = Tommy Robertson on the tobacco tax, WTF? Just PLEASE don't ask the JFP to endorse you or the readers to give you campaign money, ok??

Author
GenShermansGhost
Date
2008-03-20T22:24:50-06:00
ID
68290
Comment

Yep. Not impressed here, either, Sherm. Of course, Sen. Blount has never seemed to think that progressivm is important in Mississippi. I'd call him a public-school conservative, which I suppose is better than a an anti-public-school conservative, but that's about the best I can say about him at this point. Either he's truly conservative at heart, or he doesn't have a backbone.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-03-20T23:00:23-06:00

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