The U.S. Supreme Court handed down it's ruling on Arizona's hotly debated illegal immigration law on Monday. Many in Mississippi have sought to build on the legislation as the federal government continues to refuse to handle the issue. Rep. Becky Currie and others in the legislature stepped out last session to promote the effort. Gov. Phil Bryant was even on board.
The Mississippi House did pass a bill that addressed illegal immigration in 2012, however it died in the Senate where word was some there were concerned over the pending SCOTUS challenge.
"That impediment is behind us now, so my hope and expectation is that both chambers can agree on a strong, enforceable and constitutional immigration measure," Mississippi House Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden conveyed to Y'allPolitics Tuesday. "The bill passed by the House last session would clearly be constitutional under this week's Supreme Court ruling... The court has now given us all the guidance we need, and there is no point waiting any further."
That is sure to be the sentiment of most conservatives around the state.
Snowden went on to say, "The ruling is a definite positive. The heart of the law has been upheld as facially constitutional, although the court properly cautions against potential unconstitutional application (i.e. profiling). The provision upheld by the court (local authorities to verify immigration status) was also the heart of the bill passed by the Mississippi House last session; the three parts of the Arizona law invalidated by the court were not even in the Mississippi bill."
The Speaker Pro Tempore complimented House Judiciary B Chairman Rep. Andy Gipson's work to not include the questionable portions in the House passed bill that were struck down Monday by SCOTUS. "Had our bill become law, it would meet constitutional muster under this week's ruling," Snowden said. "I'm sure Chairman Gipson will be bringing that bill, or another similar one, forward again."
And he is.
Gipson told Y'allPolitics, "The key provision requiring checking immigration status upon arrest was in fact, upheld. I was very pleased with the decision and plan to further work on a renewed bill over the summer." He added, "I'm planning hearings in August, and am already collaborating with law enforcement officials."
On the Senate side, where the push for illegal immigration reform stalled, Sen. Michael Watson, Senate Constitution Committee Chairman, told Y'allPolitics, "Sen. McDaniel and I amended the Senate version two years ago in anticipation of this decision and to make sure it was on point in accomplishing our goals. The Senate never got to vote on the bill this year. Additionally, Senator McDaniel and I are no longer serving on Judiciary A."
Watson's thoughts on going forward now on the Senate side include tweaking SB 2988, a bill he introduced and was passed his freshman year in the legislature. "SB 2988 brought E-verify to the forefront. We need to tweak it to make sure we understand who is in charge of enforcement, and also add the provisions from the Arizona law upheld by the US Supreme Court."
Rep. Becky Currie agreed with Watson on E-verify. "I do believe the way to go for the upcoming session is to pass a bill that no illegals are entitled to any state programs such as Medicaid or Food Stamps," Currie said. "The other way to strengthen what is already state law is to actually enforce E-Verify. Today it is Law of the State of Mississippi for ALL employers to e-verify employees and the last number I received was that 7% of employers e-verify. We have no agency that is enforcing this law."
Currie also concurred with Snowden and Gipson as well. "There was nothing struck down that was in our HB488. The problem is that now ICE is not coming. As a tax payer I have to ask if we need ICE or even Homeland Security? Why bother funding them for billions of dollars? The Supreme Court of the United States of America has just announced to the world that America is free game and come on because those dumb people that go to work everyday will foot the bill."
Y'allPolitics will stay on top of this topic as it develops.
Posted June 26, 2012 - 3:12 pm