The Mississippi House advanced a bill to ban immigration sanctuary policies.
Senate Bill 2710 says cities, state agencies and public colleges can’t prevent employees from asking someone’s immigration status. These public agencies also can’t give legal status to people who entered the country without permission, such as by issuing an ID card.
The bill passed the House Tuesday and will return to the Senate.
“Here in Mississippi there have been efforts to create sanctuary cities, sanctuary policies and sanctuary campuses,” said House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, R-Braxton.
The bill would override Mississippi’s only sanctuary policy: a 2010 Jackson ordinance that prevents police officers from asking about immigration status. An effort to make the University of Mississippi into a sanctuary campus failed last year.
Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, wasn’t convinced.
“How long did the committee lay up at night worrying about something that’s not a problem in Mississippi?” he wanted to know.
Rep. Jarvis Dortch, D-Raymond, pointed out that the bill has no mechanisms for enforcement.
“What does it do other than say you want to be mean to immigrants?” he said.
Later, Rep. Joey Hood, R-Ackerman, said that public officials who break the law could be subject to contempt of court.
Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, who focused on what he saw as the harms of illegal immigration earlier in his career, said during a Monday interview on Fox News that he supports a crackdown by President Donald Trump and actions by state lawmakers. Bryant said he wants to comb state and local jails for people without legal status.
“If they have committed those crimes, we want them to pay their responsibility, their duty to serve their sentence in the state of Mississippi and have them deported,” Bryant said. “We are going to pass a law that says you can’t have sanctuary cities in Mississippi, so that you can’t hide these individuals from immigration and customs.”
In 2014, Mississippi had about 25,000 immigrants who had entered the country without permission, the Pew Research Center estimates. As a share of total population, Mississippi’s overall foreign-born population is among the smallest in the nation.