Illegal immigration is a hot topic in state and national politics, and tonight, the community is invited to learn more about this growing state-wide problem.
State Representative Gary Chism and State Senators Joey Fillingane, Chris McDaniel, and Lee Yancey will serve as the guest speakers for the Illegal Immigration Forum held at 6 p.m. tonight at the Starkville Sportsplex. The event is free and open to the public.
Dr. Rodney Hunt, president of the Mississippi Federation for Immigration and Reform, will serve as the emcee for the event.
Hunt said according to reports from the state auditorâ€™s office in 2006, conservative figures estimate 4,900 illegal immigrants currently live in the state of Mississippi. From that report illegal immigration cost the state of Mississippi $25 million annually in social services, including health care, education and incarceration. The report also stated that each year in $50 million is sent to the home country from illegal immigrants in Mississippi. Nationwide, that total is $113 billion, according to Hunt.
â€śThat is money leaving our state, money that is taken away from our own economy each year,â€ť Hunt said.
The Mississippi Federation for Immigration and Reform is using public forums, such as tonightâ€™s event, to educate citizenâ€™s on the growing problem of illegal immigration and encourage them to get engaged.
Hunt said in last year legislative session, several bills to strengthen current illegal immigration legislation were not allowed out of committee by Mississippi Senate leadership. He said as part of the Mississippi Employment Protection Act, employers hiring illegal immigrants are penalized. Hunt said as we enter the fourth year of the four-year phase-in of the Act, no action has been taken those found in violation.
Hunt said any legislation regarding illegal immigration must address jobs and social benefits.
â€śIf illegal immigrants are not being hired and are not receiving social benefits such as health care and an education, they will return to their homelands,â€ť Hunt said. â€śEmployeers hire illegals because they will work, typically unskilled labor, for less wages than Americans and receive no employer benefits.â€ť
Hunt said the purpose of the series of forums is to garner public support for stregthening illegal immigration legislation in the upcoming legislative season.
Specail guest Harry Moran, retired chief of the Mississippi Immigration and Naturalization Service, will also share his views on stregthening immigration legislation in the state.
â€śWe want citizens to talk to their legislators about this issue,â€ť Hunt said. â€śWe hope they will contact their moderate and conservative Mississippi House of Representative members to insist that the Senate advance illegal immigration legislation to the House floor (in the upcoming legislative season).â€ť
Tonightâ€™s forum is sponsored by the Mississippi Federation for Immigration and Reform, the Mississippi TEA Party and the Mississippi State University chapters of College Republicans and Young Americans for Liberty. The forum is hosted by the Starkville, Webster County, and Columbus TEA Parties.