Prayer Service Held, Leaders Talk About Immigration Reform Bill

This week the Senate will take up the issue of immigration reform once again. The topic has become extremely important to South Mississippi, especially with the boom of the Hispanic-Latino population here since the storm. That was apparent at a special prayer service held in Biloxi Sunday evening.

A Guatemalan band provided entertainment at the multi-lingual service, but the purpose of the gathering was a serious one.

"To pray for immigration reform and to thank our immigrant friends who have helped us recover, and who are rebuilding our coast," said Sally Bevill, Coordinator of Hispanic Latino Ministries for the United Methodist Church for the Seashore District.

According to the Hispanic-Latino Ministries of the Seashore District of the United Methodist Church, who sponsored the event, Mississippi's Hispanic-Latino population has grown from 15,000 pre-Katrina, to more than 50,000 today.

"It's only going to grow faster, and they're going to be the backbone of who rebuilds our coast," Bevill said.

Sally Bevill is the Coordinator of Hispanic Latino Ministries for the United Methodist Church for the Seashore District. While she believes immigration reform is needed, she doesn't support the current immigration reform bill as it stands right now.

"We do not believe in a guest worker program that would allow for abuses of the worker. We have watched guest worker programs now, I have, for almost 15 years. They don't work. They're abusive, they give too much power to the person who hires these immigrants over," Bevill said.

Bevill says these programs don't open up a good enough path for residency and they separates families.

"The other thing is we have lots of immigrants who need amnesty, pure and simple. They have come here. We have goods to share. They're good people, and they need to be able to stay here," Bevill said.

Bevill says she and the organization she works for will be keeping a close eye on the immigration reform bill.