Biloxi immigrants rights advocate concerned with High Court ruling | News
BILOXI, MS (WLOX)- A strong supporter of immigrants' rights said a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Arizona's immigration law Monday could set the stage for more debates over illegal immigration in Mississippi.
The decision was split. The justices struck down three major provisions of Arizona's law, while upholding a controversial piece concerning checking people's immigration status.
An advocate for immigrants in Biloxi said the court ruling is no victory for the organization. Roberta Avila is a board member for "Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance," or MIRA. She said most of MIRA's clients are Hispanic and some are undocumented immigrants.
"They want to be here legally, but the current law makes it very difficult," said Avila.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court threw out key sections of Arizona's immigration law, Avila said she is not entirely happy with the ruling.
"I was relieved in some respects, because there was only one piece of it that was upheld, which was "show me your papers" bill," said Avila. "But we have deep concerns about that particular piece."
That part allows officers to check the immigration status of people that they suspect are in the country illegally. Avila said that means she could be stopped and questioned by police.
"I am Mexican-American. Both of my parents were born in Mexico and immigrated to the U.S. and became U.S. citizens," said Avila. "I was born in the U.S. There are over 50 million Hispanics in the U.S. who are U.S. citizens. So a lot of people may be required to show their papers because we look like Mexicans, which we are. I think it's a racial profiling bill, which is unjust."
Earlier this year, Mississippi lawmakers considered an immigration bill with a similar provision, but the bill died. Avila said she is worried supporters of that bill will try to bring it up again next year.
"We'll rally the advocates," she said. "We'll talk to all the people we talked with last year about what it's going to mean and we'll try to get it defeated."
Avila said instead of each state coming up with its own immigration law, MIRA is pushing for comprehensive federal immigration reforms that would make it easier for immigrants to become U.S. citizens.
"Some of the barriers are they give preference to people with advanced degrees, people who come here with money and are able to institute businesses here," said Avila. "But the reality is our work force requires people who are unskilled laborers. They are filling a need in our communities and in our nation, and our current immigration law to become legal citizens puts those people at the bottom of the list."
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