Editorial published March 15, 2012:
The Mississippi Legislature appears determined to forge ahead with punitive immigration enforcement legislation, despite the evidence that it is not needed and potentially harmful.
Mississippi does have a growing immigrant population, but a small population of illegal immigrants. Estimates put the number at about 45,000. Illegal immigration has not been a major issue for this state.
But, illegal immigration is a hot-button, popular political issue for some legislators, who have offered up copy-cat proposals from other states. Arizona and Alabama have passed the most punitive anti-immigration laws, which have been challenged in court and have brought economic boycotts and protests against the state. A University of Alabama study found that Alabama’s law could cost that state $2.3 billion annually and result in the loss of 70,000-140,000 jobs. Read more …
Daniel Connolly writes about the increasing links between the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and the Immigrants Rights Movement in the South:
In 1966, James Meredith set out on a protest walk from Memphis to Jackson, Miss., calling it the “March Against Fear.”
At the time, such an act by a black man could provoke violence. Deadly rioting had erupted when Meredith enrolled at the University of Mississippi in 1962, and he would survive a shooting shortly after he began the walk.
This year, a young woman from El Salvador named Ingrid Cruz sought out an aging Meredith in Jackson. Would he endorse the concept of a Walk Against Fear, this time focused on immigration matters?
He would. An online video shows a gray-bearded Meredith in an Ole Miss baseball cap talking with Cruz. In a halting voice, he says he supports her effort. “And we’re gonna do all we can to make it a big success,” he said.
Meredith is expected to appear at the National Civil Rights Museum today as Cruz and other members of a small group make speeches before setting off on a weeks-long journey down U.S. 51 to protest what they call anti-immigrant racism. They’re scheduled to arrive April 7 in Jackson.
Cruz is a 25-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in Jackson, but two other young men making the march, Memphis residents Patricio Gonzalez and Jose Salazar, acknowledge that they’re living in the country without legal permission. Read more …