Congress should pass common sense immigration laws
We encourage the Mississippi Legislature to reject these kinds of proposals as it has many times in the past, rising above the follies of Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina who, by enacting these laws, have moved their states backwards by decades.
Much of the rhetoric aimed at immigrant workers emanates from individuals who see a threat from “brown” workers, as they have from black workers. Politicians have pandered to this fear and have profited from it. They deliberately use misinformation and myths to further their careers -”they don’t pay taxes, they take welfare, and they take our jobs!”
The fact is that undocumented workers in Mississippi paid some $52.4 million in state and local taxes during 2010; most government benefits are not available to the undocumented; and should 40,000 undocumented workers who earn between $15,000 and $35,000 annually leave, it could cost some 70,000 more lost jobs in Mississippi. On June 25, 2012, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Arizona’s anti-immigrant law was largely unconstitutional. In its decision, it struck down three of the four sections of the law that were challenged, including a provision criminalizing undocumented workers for working – thus nullifying much of Mississippi’s so-called Employment Protection Act of 2008. However, it upheld for the time being, the “show me your papers” racial profiling provision.
On August 20, a federal appeals court blocked most of the challenged provisions of Alabama and Georgia’s anti-immigrant laws. Like in the Arizona decision, the appellate court issued a narrow ruling allowing the “show me your papers” provisions to remain or go into effect, but leaving open the possibility of future challenges on civil rights or due process grounds.
However, Arizona’s anti-immigrant racial profiling law continues to face legal challenges. On August 21, the Federal District Court in Arizona heard arguments in a lawsuit brought by a coalition of civil rights groups seeking to block both the “show me your papers” provision and one that created a state crime for “harboring” people who are undocumented.
These laws violate our national values and national interests, as well as our constitution. They divide workers, promote racial profiling and deny equal justice. They are bad for business and our economic recovery, as similar laws enacted in other Southern states have bankrupted farmers and manufacturers and driven away corporations looking to locate there. They divert precious law enforcement resources away from public safety. They embolden white supremacists, as hate crimes against immigrants, and people of color are on the rise.
States are increasingly rejecting these laws and moving toward common sense approaches that uphold our values and move us forward together. We are confident that all of the Arizona law, and others like it, will ultimately be struck down, serving as a warning to law makers considering going down Arizona’s path.