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Advocates Opposing Immigration Reform Legislation

By Daniel Cherry | Published 23 Jan 2013 07:40pm | comments
Immigrant rights supporters in Mississippi are urging lawmakers to reject measures that could target undocumented immigrants. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, immigrant advocates are, instead, asking for a path to citizenship.
 
At the Mississippi Capitol yesterday, dozens of immigrants and advocates raucously opposed tougher immigration reform bills. 
Bill Chandler, Director of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, says last year there was one, more comprehensive immigration reform bill, but this session there are many smaller bills that accomplish the same goal.
 
"They're trying to be sneaky by dividing it up, and what happens is, the end result is the same. The intent is to make life miserable..."
 
At least three of the bills Chandler is referring to, are authored by Representative Becky Currie, a Republican from Brookhaven. One bill would allow law enforcement to photograph quote "certain people" found to be driving without a license who also commit a moving violation.
 
"We're not going to have the bill that I filed last year where the police pulled them over and asked for their identification. So there's going to have to be some form of ID system that we have in the state."
 
Currie says the bill isn't intended to target undocumented immigrants, just a way for law enforcement to verify drivers' identities. But detractors feel it would lead to racial profiling. For Roberto Emena who moved to Mississippi from Nicaragua eight years ago, the thought of lawmakers drawing up bills that could impact him and his family is terrifying. Emena speaks through a translator.
 
"This causes us daily stress, and that causes us daily stress. You're always living under that fear that one day you're going to get caught. But in any case, we have to take these risks to provide a better future for our families."
 
Supporters of immigration reform say tougher rules would make Mississippi safer and help legal citizens find work. The main push for immigration reform failed in the Senate last session.

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