The battle over immigration reform in Mississippi is heating up in the state legislature. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how both sides of the issue are reaching out to state leaders.

" /> Governor Bryant, Advocates Rally in Support of Immigration Reform | News | Mississippi Public Broadcasting
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Governor Bryant, Advocates Rally in Support of Immigration Reform

By Daniel Cherry | Published 29 Feb 2012 07:04pm | comments

The battle over immigration reform in Mississippi is heating up in the state legislature. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how both sides of the issue are reaching out to state leaders.

Immigration reform advocates, the Mississippi TEA Party, Republican lawmakers, and Governor Phil Bryant rallied at the capitol yesterday in support of an Alabama style immigration bill. It's an issue Governor Bryant is passionate about.

"You may believe that's the right thing to do. That for an individual to violate our federal laws and to come here might be acceptable. I just simply do not. And I continue to ask this simple question: If we ignore this law, what other laws should we ignore?"

Those on the other side of the immigration debate say the bill, if passed, would seriously harm Mississippi. Bishop Joseph Latino of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson believes the law would break up families...many of which have lived and worked in the state for years.

"If we believe in family. If we believe in the importance of family. That family helps build a structure, helps build society, them it seems to me contradictory to say we're going to pass a bill that's going to defeat the building of family and the encouragement of family."

Supporters of the bill point to Alabama, which saw a nearly two percent dip in their unemployment since their law went into effect last year. Rodney Hunt, President of the Mississippi Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement, says there are more than 130 thousand Mississippians looking for employment. He says immigration reform is aimed at helping those people find jobs, even though some opponents say the real motive is racism.

"Well when you don't have a good argument, that's what you holler. You call people names and hope they'll retract and not say anything. They've been doing that since day one that we've been involved with this. My question to them is: where is your sympathy for the U.S. citizens that the illegal labor is replacing? Where's your sympathy for them."

It's estimated Mississippi has more than 90 thousand undocumented immigrants.

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