Photo: SB 1070 Copycat Laws
Public Safety Commissioner Stephen Simpson was called upon to give his opinion on an immigration bill that, if passed and signed into law, would let law enforcement officers in Mississippi demand proof of citizenship from drivers stopped for traffic violations.
The legislation would require his department to hire 11 experts, at a cost of about $1.2 million a year, who would pore over suspected illegal immigrants’ documents to determine their validity, Simpson told members of the Senate Judiciary A Committee.
Local sheriffs then would have to bear the cost of housing the immigrants and pay for transporting them to the nearest U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility, which is in Louisiana, he said.
“Jails would fill up,” Simpson said. “That’s not to say we don’t need (the legislation).” Simpson added.
Sen. Terry Burton, R-Newton, raised the prospect of additional costs involved in hiring additional prosecutors and judges if the bill were enacted.
“I don’t think a Circuit Court has the authority to determine United States citizenship. That’s my knee-jerk reaction,” said Simpson, a former prosecutor and Circuit Court judge.
The committee hearing provided some insight into the apparent uphill battle facing the legislation, modeled after the high-profile Arizona law, faces in the state Legislature.