Both chambers acted on illegal immigration

JACKSON — A bit of confusion seems to exist about how each chamber of the Mississippi Legislature handled the touchy issue of illegal immigration during the 2011 session.

For the record, upon the urging of Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, the Senate passed language that would mandate local and state law enforcement check for immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally if they were stopped for another reason. The so-called Arizona bill also had a provision that local governments disliked because they feared it would allow them to be sued if someone thought their law officers were not adequately enforcing the mandates of the bill.

The House passed a proposal that also mandated local law enforcement to check for immigration status. But the House took out the language that local governments objected to and added language that would allow companies that hire illegal immigrants to be sued and fined.

The Senate leaders did not like the provision penalizing companies and said it was a violation of federal law. Some, including some federal judges, say the mandate on local law enforcement also is a violation of federal law.

Both chambers then appointed conferees to work out the differences, but little was done in way of meeting to trying to reach a compromise.