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Latino Daily News

Tuesday September 28, 2010

Hispanics in Mississippi Claiming Discrimination

In Pearl Mississippi, a city of about 22,000, an immigrants rights group is challenging a city ordinance for unfairly targeting Hispanics.
The ordinance restricts how many occupants can live in a dwelling.
The ordinance allows no more than two people per bedroom. It requires landlords to file a report with the city notifying them of names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses of all residents at each of the city’s homes.

“The city wants to make sure that people who are renting living space are not being forced to live in overcrowded and squalid conditions,” said city attorney Jim Bobo, who researched and wrote the ordinance. Violators of the ordinance face a maximum of 90 days in prison and $1,000 in fines. A person who submits misleading information faces similar penalties.

It’s asking too much private information from individuals,” said Abby Peterson, a staff attorney for Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA). “It’s overstepping boundaries.” The group learned of the ordinance when members of the alliance began to field complaints from Hispanic residents about an ordinance that had been passed in February.

MIRA is skeptical of the ordinance’s intentions, Peterson said.

“The consensus with the people we have spoken with is that the objective of this ordinance is to eliminate the Hispanic population,” Peterson said as he left a meeting with a group of residents last week where they talked about the federal Fair Housing Act.