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Mississippi joins immigration lawsuit

Mississippi has made an aggressive move against immigration policy in the midst of economic problems.

Mississippi became the first state to join a lawsuit filed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents against Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Oct. 10.
The lawsuit was formed regarding immigration policies that the agents say hinder ICE officials from doing their jobs. Ten individual ICE agents, represented by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, introduced the lawsuit in August.
The suit will focus on prosecutorial discretion and deferred action, two main points in Obama’s immigration policy. The first refers to prioritization of deportation on a case-by-case basis, and the second allows im- migrants eligible under the DREAM Act to apply for work permits.

“I believe this action by the Obama administration is unconstitutional and circumvents Congress’s authority,” Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said in a press release on Oct. 10.
“The fact remains that illegal immigration is a real issue with real consequences, and ignoring the rule of law is ir- responsible.”
“As governor, I cannot turn a blind eye to the problem of illegal immigration and its costs to Mississippi.”
According to a report issued by Bryant in 2006 when he was state auditor, the net cost of illegal immigration adds up to more than $25 million annually. The Oct. 10 press release mentions that education, law enforcement and health care costs all factor into this amount, plus lost tax revenues and additional losses.

At the same time, Ingrid Cruz, civil and human rights worker for The Leadership Conference, said that this lawsuit will cause Mississippi even more financial suffering.
Cruz, a recent U.S. citizen, moved to America when she was two years old.
“If people (immigrants) are too scared to go to the state, they’re just not going to go,” she said. “They’re not going to move here, live here or invest here. We’re going to lose.”
Oxford attorney Daniel Sparks is concerned about big-government involvement in what he considers a states’ rights issue. The lawsuit represents growing discontent with immigration policy, in that it is “legislated from a decentralized location for lo- cal implementation,” according to Sparks.

“States need leverage to implement programs as they see fit because they deal with the problems on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
Although this petition against prosecutorial discretion and deferred action has gained significant support in the form of more than 75,000 online signatures, Cruz said the effect of the lawsuit on Mississippi’s economy needs to be considered.
“Just look at the fact that we’re the poorest state in the nation,” she said. “Is millions of dollars of loss good or bad?”