We've written before about the fallout on local governments as a result of the language in SB 2179, known as the "Arizona-style" immigration legislation the Mississippi Senate passed on Tuesday. The Mississippi Municipal League, as well as the associations for the sheriffs an the police chiefs, have all voiced opposition to the legislation as is. Let's look at why.
To begin with, none of those associations are against cracking down on illegal immigration, and they've said as much. The devil, as always, is in the details. And the details of SB 2179 are devilish indeed. For instance, the bill would require local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law, something which they are not trained to do. Well, that's no big deal, right? Anyone can go get trained, can't they? Well, this bill provides no funding for training, nor for the time off to attend it. What happens when there's no training? Mistakes are made, civil rights are violated, and lawsuits get filed.
And what about housing those who are arrested for allegedly being in the country illegally? Well, there's a provision for a $20 per day reimbursement to local governments for that purpose, but of course the money is just to be randomly allocated by the Legislature each year. That means there is absolutely no secure, steady source of funding for the reimbursement. Good thing money's growing on trees in Jackson. Oh, wait....
Then there's the provision that was the focus of the Baria Amendment we've written about before. Under this bill, private citizens could sue local law enforcement for not enforcing this law. This is bad for many reasons, but the first thing that sticks out is that the Republican authors and supporters of this bill simply don't trust law enforcement officers to do their sworn duty to uphold the law. As if impugning the character of Mississippi's true public servants isn't enough, the supporters of this bill are also looking to pull money out of the coffers of already suffering local governments by instituting a $5,000 per day fine if they aren't enforcing this unfunded mandate forcefully enough.
Then there's the honestly dangerous part of all of this: many, if not most, law enforcement agencies have an automatic administrative leave policy that kicks in when a law enforcement officer is sued. That means that this legislation will take officers off of the streets of Mississippi, endangering all of us.
One can't help but notice something very important missing from this bill: large civil and criminal penalties against businesses that employ undocumented workers. A better wage than what they can get at home is the big magnet that draws folks here. If they couldn't find work in Mississippi, they wouldn't come here in the first place. So why is the Mississippi Republican Party targeting law enforcement and local governments, and not big business?