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By KELLY DANIELS
In efforts to pass Mississippiâs version of the Arizona illegal immigration bill, state lawmakers challenged local conservatives to stay on the phone with their elected officials.
During a TEA Party sponsored forum Monday, State Rep. Gary A. Chism told supporters Senate Bill 1070 to skip e-mail and call members of the House who will have the final say, explaining that he gets around 60 e-mails a day reading only the ones named with the areas he represents.
âWhen they are in session, your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is at stake,â he said. âYou need to pick up the phone and call these people.â
Members of the Senate who have drafted and revised legislation related to illegal immigration enforcement said that difficulty arrives when it reaches the committee process and is pocket-vetoed.
âWe can pass bills out of the Senate all day long, but when we get to the House, we hit a brick wall,â State Sen. Joey Fillingane explained.
And the illegal alien legislation that has succeeded took a lot of effort from the conservative resurgence, Fillingane added.
Mississippi is one of 14 states that require employers to use the E-Verify system, using federal databases to check their workersâ and applicantsâ legal status. Companies with more than 30 employees had to comply on July 1. Companies with less than 30 workers are given another year.
âAfter that, there are no more excuses,â said State Sen. Lee Yancey. âThe federal government has let us down on this issue time and time
again, but that is no reason Mississippi canât say, âIf you wonât protect us, weâre going to protect ourselves.ââ
The State Auditorâs Office estimates a total of 49,000 illegal immigrants living in Mississippi, costing an annual $25 million in public services such as school, health care and incarceration, Dr. Rodney Hunt, president of the Mississippi Federation for Immigration and Reform, reported.
Additionally, the office estimates that $50 million leaks out of the state and into the native countries of undocumented workers.
SB 1070 would change immigration laws connected to enforcement, failure to carry alien registration documentation, employer sanctions, day laborers and harboring or transporting illegal aliens.
State Sen. Chris McDaniel said the problems facing Mississippi due to uncontrolled immigration have nothing to do with racism but everything to due with fiscal responsibility and national defense.
âNo society has ever been able to sustain uncontrolled migration,â McDaniel said.
With its lenience on immigration laws, the U.S. government imports poverty, and therefore, more statism, he added.
Mississippi joins the club of states trying to adopt their own immigration laws, including Texas, Colorado, Utah, Georgia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Missouri, Maryland, North Carolina, Idaho and Nebraska.
McDaniel said he supports the idea of making public benefits unavailable to illegal immigrants and educating children that all cultures are not created equal.
âAs evidence of that, there are millions of people trying to be a part of our culture,â McDaniel said.