Anti-sanctuary cities bill heads to governor

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Cities, counties, community colleges and universities could be banned from adopting policies that protect undocumented immigrants if Gov. Phil Bryant signs a bill now headed to his desk.

Gil Ford Photography

Sen. Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport

On Tuesday, the Senate agreed to changes made in the House on Senate Bill 2710, sponsored by Sen. Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport. By concurring with the House, the bill goes straight to Gov. Phil Bryant for consideration.

Once approved by the governor, the bill would take effect immediately by voiding policies that municipalities, counties and agencies may adopt that prevent employers from punishing people because of their immigration status.

“I appreciate the work of Sen. Tindell to ensure our local governments and educational institutions follow federal immigration laws,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said in a statement. “No government entity – whether at city hall or a university campus – can grant amnesty to illegal aliens and violate federal laws.”

Gov. Bryant’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Bryant has long been critical of illegal immigration. When he was state auditor, he commissioned a 2006 report that estimated some 49,000 undocumented immigrants cost state taxpayers $25 million.

Rogelio V. Solis, AP

Gov. Phil Bryant

Meanwhile, critics of Bryant’s study say it ignored contributions of immigrants, including sales tax paid and local property taxes they pay when they buy homes. The report is often cited in political circles as evidence that undocumented immigrants hurt Mississippi’s economy.

It has been some five years since the Legislature has made a serious attempt at state-level immigration reform. In 2010, the city of Jackson passed what it called an anti-racial-profiling ordinance that prohibits police officers from asking about suspects’ immigration status during routine traffic stops.

However, in floor debate, supporters of this year’s legislation noted that no Mississippi communities currently have passed so-called “sanctuary” regulations attempting to escape from enforcing federal immigration law. This year’s proposed legislation saw little resistance from lawmakers.