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Immigrants Living In Mississippi Weigh In on Immigration Debate

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 21 Jan 2011 07:30am | comments
A group of Ethiopian exchange students pose in festival attire.

Immigrants living in Mississippi are closely watching a debate in the Mississippi legislature that could lead to laws cracking down on illegal immigration. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports on Migration Festival intended to spread cultural understanding.

The Mississippi Senate has already passed a bill modeled after the controversial Arizona Immigration law.

At the Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Jackson, dozens of tables representing different nationalities crowded into an open room.

Maria Rios works with the Mississippi Migrant Education center helping immigrants to Mississippi learn about English and the American culture.

"Some of them don't do it because they think that they are going to be here a short period of time. So they don't put in the effort or raise their kids through the school. So (teaching them) is our main goal," Rios said.

Adapting to American customs can be a daunting task, but for Ruth Jiaog a student from China, the biggest challenge is figuring out what to eat.

"I think America is a good place to live for me. I like the American people, I think they are nice. but I don't like American food I like Chinese food," Jiaog said.

Most people running a booth were aware of the debate surrounding new laws intended to crack down on illegal immigrants in Mississippi.

Irna Gomez moved to Mississippi from Venezuela 8 years ago. She is now a full citizens and feels that others should have to follow the same path she did.

"I think the best thing anybody has to do is make goals. They have to dream something and follow their dreams. And after that, they have to do what they have to do," Gomez said.

Gomez's reaction was not unique but a far more common reaction is more similar to David Aquino, who is originally from Brazil.

"It’s got to be a control for everything that is my opinion. But I do believe that we need to ease up and allow more of the good people who are here to bringing, adding up to our economy, to our culture to our lives," Aquino said.

Others expressed worry that the law could lead to racial profiling by police and that a more open pathway into the US is a better solution to people trying to come here illegally.


A group of Ethiopian exchange students pose in festival attire.



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