Immigration bills filed at the state capitol - - The News for South Mississippi

Immigration bills filed at the state capitol

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

If at first you don't succeed, you know the rest, and so do lawmakers who support immigration reform. With less than a week to go before the 2013 legislative session, republican Andy Gipson says several immigration bills have already been filed. While he hasn't authored any of them, any such bill must pass through the House Judiciary B Committee, which he chairs.

"We believe in obeying the law and we believe the federal government has abdicated its responsibility and because of that fact it's left to the states to do something," said Gipson.

How the bills will look is still being sorted out. Gipson says the committee is still studying the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last summer that struck down parts of an Arizona law aimed at curbing illegal immigration. A house bill introduced by Representative Becky Currie was modeled after that very law. During the session Currie said the bill had a simple goal.

"Be legal, that's all we're asking. Be legal," said Currie as she defended the bill last year.

While it passed the House, the bill died in the Senate. Because of the Supreme Court ruling, Gipson says lawmakers will have to pay close attention.

"We're going to have to really carefully review, make sure we comply with the law and if we need to amend any of our existing law we may have to do that as well," said Gipson.

This time around Gipson says he wants to make sure the public is involved in what passes. During a public hearing in August, those in support and opposition told lawmakers how they felt. Some even blasted the state's current E-verify system.

"It's not right to encourage a person to be here illegally and that is what some employers are doing by working illegal immigrants," said business owner Thomas Ray Ford during that hearing.

"How can a police man tell if they're undocumented," said Maria Mazy who because a citizen last year.

It's those types of stances which Gipson says play a big role under the Capitol dome.

"Last year I got hundreds of calls on the issue of immigration. If I get that many calls then I am absolutely going to take a harder look at that bill and consider what to do with it," said Gipson.

The 2013 legislative session begins on Tuesday, with a deadline of bill introductions on January 21st.

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