House committee passes anti-sanctuary city bill

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A Senate bill barring sanctuary city policies passed out of a House committee Thursday morning, a day after United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials executed federal criminal search warrants at several Rankin and Lauderdale County restaurants.

Senate Bill 2710, passed by the House Judiciary B committee, would prevent Mississippi counties, cities, colleges, state agencies and others from having or enabling policies designed to limit cooperation with or involvement in federal immigration enforcement.

During debate in the Senate, supporters of the bill stated that no government entitities or colleges in the state have adopted sanctuary resolutions or laws.

Social media caught fire for a few days last November amid reports that students at the University of Mississippi were circulating a petition asking Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter to declare the campus a sanctuary for undocumented persons.

However, student leaders tabled consideration of a resolution and apologized to the Ole Miss community for the attention created by what they termed a draft.

In a statement issued at that time, Vitter noted that as chancellor, “my responsibility is to administer and operate the university within applicable Federal and state laws, as well as the policies and procedures established by the Board of Trustees of Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.”

At Thursday’s committee meeting, Rep. David Baria, D-Bay St. Louis, asked how the bill would affect children of immigrants born in the country, as well as the kids who were  “brought here as a child and they had no say-so in crossing the border.”

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Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton

Committee chairman Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton told him if the children were born in the United States they were legal citizens who would not be affected.

However, “If they were brought here without the proper procedures, then what this bill says is that no subdivision is going to pass a policy that prohibits somebody from making sure that the law is abided with,” Gipson said.

“This doesn’t mandate any action, it just says we’re not going to turn a blind eye to the immigration law we have on the books. That’s federal law,” Gipson said.

The bill passed with a voice vote, but Rep. Adrienne Wooten, D-Jackson, requested a roll call. The bill now heads to the House floor for action.

The committee also passed:

Senate Bill 2342: Would clarify the procedure and eligible reasons for involuntary termination of parental rights

Senate Bill 2305: Adds rural mail carriers to the “Move Over Law,” which dictates specific vehicles motorists are required to slow down and move around on roadways.

Senate Bill 2680: Would allow care by a relative as a legal placement option for children who have been abused and neglected

Senate Bill 2673: Would create a panel to study guardian ad litem (court-appointed investigator of a child’s best interest) fees.