Gov. Barbour should veto bill [Mississippi - legislation alert!]
- Immigration: Gov. Barbour should veto bill
Immigration: Gov. Barbour should veto bill
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"...Under the legislation, any illegal immigrant found working in the state could face a one year prison sentence and a fine of not more than $10,000..."
Illegal immigrant bill sent to Barbour3/6/2008 2:38:10 AM
Daily JournalBY BOBBY HARRISON
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON - Legislation was sent to Gov. Haley Barbour on Wednesday for stiff state penalties on illegal immigrants and the employers who hire them.
The legislation was part of a package Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant campaigned on last year. Having passed the Senate earlier this session, it was taken up in House committee Wednesday morning and later by the full House, where it was approved 111-8.
The legislation now goes to Barbour, whose spokesman Pete Smith said, "It is likely he will sign the bill although he will need to review it in its entirety before making a decision."
While the Republican Bryant campaigned on the issue, the legislation had wide bipartisan support, although many in the business community opposed it.
The legislation requires employers to use the U.S. Homeland Security electronic verification system to check whether new hires are legal residents. Employers who do use the e-verification system and hire illegal immigrants are subject to losing their business license for a year and any state contract work for up to three years.
If the e-verification system indicates a potential employee is a legal resident and it is later discovered to be wrong, the employer is protected.
Under the legislation, any illegal immigrant found working in the state could face a one year prison sentence and a fine of not more than $10,000.
"The penalties are pretty stiff," said Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, the primary author of the legislation. "But we want to make sure we address a growing issue and a growing voice in the state of Mississippi. People are demanding we address this issue."
While there was no effort to amend the legislation on the House floor, some members expressed reservations.
Rep. Tommy Woods, R-Byhalia, asked what would happen if an employer did not have Internet access to use the e-verification system. Rep. Brandon Jones, D-Pascagoula, said the employer could use the Internet at the local library, to which Woods replied the employer might not have time.
"We have to address this issue some way," Jones said.
Rep. John Mayo, D-Clarksdale, said in an e-mail response that his opposition to the bill might cost him votes, but "Why, in the name of everything decent, do we send off to jail a person who is trying to feed his or her family?
"I don't want them here. But if our federal government is so inept, why do we have to put them in our prisons and pay $20,000 a year or more for locking them up in our jails?"
He said it would be cheaper for the state of Mississippi to buy them an airplane ticket and send them home.
Plus, the opponents of the legislation questioned why employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and do not have to pay taxes on them are not also locked up.
Contact Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
reporter Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@....
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