Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Ongoing Drive for Justice


By Rev. Jeremy Tobin

History often repeats itself. Contemporary movements for immigration reform have been driven by a push-back for human rights, fairness and the constitutional protections afforded everyone in America. But once again this nation is seeing a growing anti-immigrant movement fueled by fear, racism and a desire to have the cheapest workforce for maximum profits.

The backlash against immigrants and immigration reform has played into the hands of corporate interests who cut overhead by flouting workplace safety rules because workers are afraid to complain. Organizations that started out anti-civil rights have reinvented themselves to be anti-immigrant rights, and too often the media act as their propaganda wing. When the Republican Party consistently supports anti-immigration legislation it is allying itself with some very unsavory characters.

In Mississippi, the Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance (MIRA) has successfully killed about every piece of anti-immigrant legislation proposed in the statehouse for the last 10 years. In 2008, however, by agreement of the leadership in the Legislature and the governor’s office, SB 2988, a draconian bill to oppress immigrants, passed. The law makes it a felony for an undocumented immigrant to work in Mississippi. Punishment can range from one to five years in prison, with hefty fines of $1,000 to $10,000. SB 2988 also sanctions employers. The sanctions amount to fines, and are often waived if the employer cooperates with ICE. This opens the door for employers to discriminate against Latinos and others. To date, no one has been charged under SB 2988. Click here to read full op-ed


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