The Mississippi House of Representatives voted 70-47 Thursday to approve a controversial immigration reform bill [HB 488 materials]. The "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" is based off of Arizona's SB 1070 [text, PDF], which has been the subject of national debate and federal litigation [JURIST news archive]. As originally introduced, the Mississippi legislation would have required public schools to check the status of enrolling students and allowed for police officers to check the status of individuals pulled over in traffic. The version that was approved excludes those provisions but does require police to check the immigration status of anyone arrested and prohibits illegal aliens from entering into business transactions. The bill will now be sent to the Senate for approval, where it is expected to pass. Governor Phil Bryant has already expressed his support for the measure.
The Mississippi law comes on the heels of other controversial immigration reforms proposed in many states following the Arizona law. Similar legislation has passed in Utah, South Carolina and Indiana [JURIST reports]. Last week the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit heard arguments [JURIST report] to challenge immigration legislation recently passed in Alabama and Georgia, but the court postponed its ruling until after the Supreme Court decides on the Arizona law. In December the Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether Arizona's controversial immigration law is preempted by federal law [JURIST report]. In November the US Department of Justice [official website] urged the Supreme Court not to hear [JURIST report] Arizona's appeal. In what many view as an indication of how the Supreme Court may rule, the court ruled in May in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting [Cornell LII backgrounder] that Arizona's controversial employment-related immigration law is not preempted by the Immigration Reform and Control Act [JURIST report].