Hot air rising: State illegal immigration legislation

Published 2:50 pm Thursday, March 3, 2011

Federal immigration officers raided apartment complexes, trailers and homes in the central Mississippi area recently and 58 people were taken into custody.

The arrests were in Brandon, Pearl, Ridgeland, Canton, Carthage, Crystal Springs, Hazlehurst and Jackson.

Officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement in New Orleans said those arrested included convicted criminal illegal immigrants, immigration fugitives and known gang members and affiliates. Some also had prior criminal convictions for drug sales, sexual assault, assault and drunken driving, officials said.

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There are a lot of questions to be asked about the raids. First and foremost: Is the federal government really interested in comprehensive immigration reform?

The recent raids appear to have been more of a show of force and government activity than any serious effort at increased enforcement. The focus on illegal immigrants with criminal records makes that clear …

While removing criminals — illegal immigrants or legal citizens — is helpful, the message is that the federal government really isn’t that interested in apprehending illegals who don’t have criminal records.

Comprehensive immigration reform recognizes the need not only to secure the borders, but also provide a reasonable path to citizenship. …

The Mississippi House and Senate have each passed laws aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration.

The House version would fine businesses that hire those working illegally. But state efforts to force local governments to pick up the slack are counterproductive and punitive to strapped local governments.

That is beside the fact that the ill-conceived laws would be ineffective and potentially discriminatory.

Immigration is a federal problem that will require a federal solution. State legislation that’s exhausting political hot air on the subject is primarily just more election year pandering from legislators.