Mississippi House, Senate passes Arizona copycat bill

Liz Goodwin

Mississippi is poised to become the first state to pass an Arizona copycat law.

The House passed an amended version of the Senate-approved measure yesterday, which will require immigrants to carry proof of their legal status in the state. Police officers must verify a person's immigration status if they suspect the person may be an illegal immigrant.

The Democratic-controlled House stripped a provision that would allow citizens to sue state agencies or officials if they believe they are not enforcing immigration law. They also added a measure that will fine employers for hiring illegal immigrants.

The bill passed 80-36, but the Senate will have to agree to the House's changes before the measure goes to Gov. Haley Barbour's desk.

Judy Phillips, a research associate at Mississippi State University's Stennis Institute of Government told the Lookout she expects the Senate will accept the amended version, and that Barbour will sign it.

At least a dozen states have introduced or are close to introducing similar bills. Key portions of Arizona's law have been struck down by a federal judge as unconstitutional.

(Barbour: AP.)