Immigration and the 2012 Legislature
From: Dr. Rodney Hunt - President Mississippi Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement (MFIRE)
House Speaker Phillip Gunn and the House leadership earn praise and an A grade for their handling and passage of HB488, Rep. Becky Currie’s immigration enforcement legislation, by the MS Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement (MFIRE). Special thanks go to Rep. Currie and the House Judiciary B Committee Chairman, Rep. Andy Gipson.
Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves and Senate leadership deserve an F for their total disregard for immigration enforcement legislation. After four years of enforcement legislation passing the Senate by overwhelming and sometimes unanimous votes only to be killed by former House Speaker Billy McCoy and the Democrat leadership of the House, we have now seen Lt. Gov. Reeves and his allies stop all enforcement legislation this year.
Early in this legislative session there was talk of blowback attributed to some Republican leaders in the Senate and Lt. Gov. Reeves concerning state illegal immigration legislation.
All immigration enforcement legislation that originated in the Senate was assigned to Senate Judiciary A Committee chaired by Sen. Briggs Hopson. In a meeting with Sen. Hopson, he stated that the Senate’s agenda was controlled by Lt. Gov. Reeves. Hopson then proceeded to kill all of the immigration enforcement legislation that was assigned to his committee, including the Arizona style legislation that passed the Senate 34-15 last year and a bill that had passed the Senate four years in a row requiring the verification of legal status before obtaining public benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid. He did not allow a committee vote.
Lt. Gov. Reeve’s policy advisor said in an earlier meeting that illegal immigration was not an issue that the Lt. Gov.’s had made a part of his campaign.
In a meeting with Lt. Gov. Reeves, MFIRE stated that there was every indication that Rep. Becky Currie’s Alabama style enforcement bill would pass the House. MFIRE asked him how the bill would be received in the Senate, and requested his support and petitioned him to let this legislation go to the floor for a vote. Lt. Gov. Reeves did not respond.
At the Republican Women’s Luncheon the day after Rep. Currie’s bill passed the House by a 70-48 vote, this writer spoke to Senate Pro Tem leader Terry Brown and asked him to persuade the Lt. Gov. to support the bill and bring it to the Senate floor for a vote. Sen. Brown stepped outside and stated that he and the Lt. Gov. had talked about the bill that morning and that it would be on the floor for a vote soon.
Sen. Brown later confirmed this and added that amendments would probably be made. MFIRE wrongly relied on his statement and assumed that the bill would get a vote. To the contrary, Lt. Gov. assigned the bill to the Senate Judiciary B Committee chaired by Sen. Hob Bryan.
Sen. Bryan, a liberal Democrat, was one of only 15 senators to vote against similar legislation last year. We believe that this committee assignment was a deliberate action to make sure the bill was dead. Sen. Bryan subsequently killed the bill by not allowing a committee vote.
Rep. Andy Gibson, chairman of the House Judiciary B Committee steered HB488 through the House. He was quoted in the Clarion-Ledger as saying, “ Those individuals who opposed it in the Senate were the same individuals who I met with on this side of the Capitol, and I put in language that they requested and took language out that they requested.”
Lt. Gov. Reeve’s actions continue to make Mississippi a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants and a safe haven for unethical and unlawful employers who hire illegal immigrants in violation of established federal law.
Lt. Gov. should respect the wishes of the vast majority of Mississippi voters and support the rule of law and enforcement of the law. It is hoped that he will change his alliances and protect the unemployed, the legal workers, and the taxpayers of our state.