LatinaLista — The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi has an ironic name that served him very well yesterday during a protest of the new immigration law the state wants to enact.
[caption id="attachment_15979" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Gov. Phil Bryant (center) speaks for pro immigration legislation with supporters from the Mississippi Federation for Immigration Reform and the Mississippi Tea Party during Wednesday's news conference at the state Capitol in Jackson. House Bill 488 would require immigrants to carry documents showing that they're legally in the United States. (Photo: Greg Jenson/The Clarion-Ledger)"][/caption]
Bishop Joseph Latino joined fellow Bishop Roger Morin of the Biloxi diocese to protest the Alabama-style proposed immigration legislation now being considered for passage in Mississippi's state legislature.
The main reason state officials cite they need the law is that they say undocumented immigrants are taking jobs away from their citizens.
Hmmm, have heard this before.
"There are an estimated 90,000 illegal immigrants in our state, and over 133,000 Mississippi citizens have actively looked for a job in the past two months and are still unemployed," said Rodney Hunt, president of the Mississippi Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement.
"We believe more jobs will open up for Mississippians as a result of House Bill 488."
If Mississippi legislators really cared about their state's economy then this is the last piece of legislation they would try to pass. They have only to look at what has happened to their neighbor Alabama's economy to see that the anti-immigrant legislation Alabama passed has done nothing but damaged the state's bottom line.
From frightening off undocumented workers from back-breaking work of picking crops, and working in the stinky slaughterhouses to other hard labor jobs, Alabama legislators have been warned by their state economists to get ready for a shock in lost taxes.
However, that's a slight detail that Mr. Hunt of the Mississippi Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement probably didn't feel was important to share with legislators.
A study by the University of Alabama's Center for Business and Economic Research found that a loss of as many as 80,000 unauthorized immigrants who earn between $15,000 and $35,000 annually could result in up to 140,000 lost jobs, a $10.8 billion reduction in the state's gross domestic product and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost local and state income tax collections.
The real pain from Alabama's legislation won't be felt until food prices reach new heights because of a state food shortage caused when state farmers had to let tons of crops spoil because no one was willing to pick them. All the unemployed citizens Alabama legislators were told would come to fill those empty slots left behind after the migrant workers fled never appeared. Those that did barely finished the day, let alone a week.
Yet, unbelievably Mississippi legislators didn't hear of this or they have been lead to believe it can't possibly happen in their state, or worse, they don't care.
It can only be hoped the people of Mississippi are smarter than their leaders.