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Beverly Hills, California, United States
Eli Kantor is a labor, employment and immigration law attorney. He has been practicing labor, employment and immigration law for more than 36 years. He has been featured in articles about labor, employment and immigration law in the L.A. Times, Business Week.com and Daily Variety. He is a regular columnist for the Daily Journal. Telephone (310)274-8216; eli@elikantorlaw.com. For more information, visit beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com and and beverlyhillsemploymentlaw.com


Friday, March 30, 2012

Some Clergy Oppose Mississippi Immigration Bill

Associated Press-Mississippi: Several religious leaders united Thursday in declaring their opposition to an immigration enforcement bill under consideration by the Mississippi Legislature.

Representatives from Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist groups appeared Thursday at the state Capitol to reiterate their concerns about House Bill 488.

Bishop Ronnie Crudup of New Horizon Church in Jackson said the bill would lead to racial profiling.

"This is not the spirit, nor the tone of the type of legislation we need for this state," Crudup said. "It will certainly cause racial profiling to go up for not only people of Hispanic descent, I would daresay also for people of color in general."

House Bill 488 passed the House on March 14 and awaits consideration in a Senate committee. It has faced opposition since it was introduced.

The measure would require police to report to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement every time they arrest someone they suspect may be in the country illegally. Law enforcement departments that don't comply could be fined up to $5,000 per day. The bill would also prohibit any illegal immigrant from applying for a driver's license or business license.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant and other supporters of the bill say they're not against immigrants, but think people should be in the U.S. legally.

Imam Ali Siddiqui, a California peace and labor activist visiting Mississippi, said state immigration laws have had a negative impact on Muslims in the U.S.

"There is discrimination for jobs, women who wear hijab are discriminated against and spit on," Siddiqui said. "Every time we see laws that are passed like the one in Arizona, it has also impacted Muslims."

Hope Morgan Ward, the United Methodist bishop for Mississippi, told a small crowd gathered in the Capitol rotunda that the immigration bill does not follow Christian principals.

"Do no harm," Ward said. "House Bill 488, we believe, will do harm. It will create a greater climate of hostility and suspicion and fear."

Next Tuesday is the deadline for Senate committees to consider bills that have already passed the House, and for House committees to act on bills that have already passed the Senate.

Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, whose Judiciary B Committee is considering the bill, said he will treat the immigration-enforcement bill as he would any other that is assigned to his committee.

The Mississippi Tea Party, which supports the bill, issued a statement Thursday criticizing Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves for sending the bill to Bryan.

"In the past, Sen. Bryan has not been a friend of enforcement," the tea party said, citing his vote against a similar bill in 2011.

"Tate Reeves' referral of the bill to Sen. Bryan could very well result in its failure based on his prior vote," the group said. "Bryan has the power to kill the bill by not bringing it up for discussion or a vote at the committee level."

Some House members also fear the bill will die in the Senate committee, and they're trying to find other ways to keep the issue alive.

On Thursday, House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, inserted the immigration-enforcement provisions into a Senate bill that attempts to further regulate the sale of counterfeit goods. It's unclear, though, whether the House rules allow the insertion of the immigration language into the seemingly unrelated counterfeit-goods bill, Senate Bill 2549, which involves different portions of state law. House rules prohibit adding new state code sections to bills in the midst of a legislative session. Gipson said he's checking with the House legal staff.

Gipson said some people pushing the counterfeit-goods bill say sale of the items affects immigrants, so adding the immigration-enforcement bill, "made sense to me."

Opposition to the immigration-enforcement bill has also come this week from sheriffs, police chiefs, county supervisors and municipal leaders, who say they worry about increased jail expenses with little or no state money to cover costs. Building contractors, several agriculture groups and the Mississippi Economic Council also oppose the bill.

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