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An anti-Trump march last month in Minneapolis, Minn. where demonstrators called for expanded sanctuary city protections for immigrants. (Photo: Fibonacci Blue/flickr/cc)

Mississippi Bill Helps Enable Trump's "Sinister" Immigration Crackdown

Days after Trump administration issues report aimed at scaring "jurisdictions into becoming deportation agents," Mississippi poised to enact anti-sanctuary cities law

Andrea Germanos

Days after the Trump administration put out its first "sinister" immigrant crime list, Mississippi is poised to enact an anti-sanctuary cities bill that one expert says will fuel racial profiling and make communities less safe.

The Mississippi Senate passed the measure, Senate Bill 2710 on Tuesday, and it now heads to the desk of Gov. Phil Bryant, who tweeted that he "look[s] forward to signing" it.

It states: "No state agency, department, political subdivision of this state, county, municipality, university, college, community college or junior college, or any agent, employee, or officer thereof shall adopt, or implement a policy, order, or ordinance that (a) limits or prohibits any person from communicating or cooperating with federal agencies or officials to verify or report the immigration status of any person; or (b) grants to any person the right to lawful presence or status within the state, a county, or municipality, or the campus of a university, college, community college, or junior college in violation of federal law."

The state currently has no sanctuary cities. The Jackson, Miss. Clarion-Ledger writes that the legislation is "at least in part in response to an anti-profiling ordinance the city of Jackson adopted in 2010 that would prohibit police questioning people about their immigration status solely to determine if they are in the country illegally."

According to Katherine Klein, Equality for All Advocacy coordinator for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Mississippi, one immediate effect of the bill could be that police officers will engage in racial profiling. "How many people will be questioned, detained, or denied assistance, simply because of the color of their skin?" she wrote in an op-ed at the Biloxi Sun Herald.

And not only would police departments be forced to prioritize federal immigration policies, making them devote less attention to public safety and divert needed fiscal resources, undocumented immigrants may not contact police when needed if the fear of deportation looms, Klein wrote.

For State Sen. Derrick Simmons (D-Grenville) the legislation is "just completely unnecessary."

"It's anti-immigration legislation that we don't need. Certainly now that we are under a Trump administration we're going to see more anti-immigration policies," he added, writes Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

One sanctuary city, Austin, Texas, recently felt the sting of such polices.

The Austin American-Statesman wrote Monday that U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Austin said he was told by federal agents that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids conducted mid-February were retaliation for a new policy enacted by Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez.

That policy, enacted Feb.1, meant "that her department no longer would honor most warrantless requests from U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to detain jailed suspects who were in the United States illegally, except those charged with murder, aggravated sexual assault, and human smuggling," as the Houston Chronicle wrote.

The revelation of the retaliatory raids, said Jose P. Garza, executive director of the Texas-based Workers Defense Project, "confirms our worst fears and calls into question the legitimacy of recent enforcement actions."

"Many law abiding Austin families were in fact politically targeted in those ICE raids by the Trump administration and the Department of Homeland Security must immediately provide our community with answers," he said in a press statement.

Also on Monday, the administration began "publicly shaming so-called 'sanctuary cities' in an attempt to get them to cooperate with deportation efforts," as the Huffington Post wrote.

That effort comes via the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Declined Detainer Outcome Report, which offers a supposed "weekly list of crimes" committed by immigrants. The Independent writes that it "lists 'examples' of people who are currently in the U.S. and have not been deported by their jurisdiction despite a deportation request by ICE." It includes people who have been charged but not convicted, Yahoo! News notes

"This is part of an overall strategy to try to scare jurisdictions into becoming deportation agents," said Cody Wofsy, a staff attorney with the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "And the truth is that jurisdictions have the legal right to refuse to become entangled with the federal immigration enforcement system."

Daniel José Camacho, a Masters of Divinity student at Duke Divinity School, describes the list as "sinister" and, echoing Wofsy, adds that it "represents a clear tactic to intimidate local jurisdictions resisting ICE and an attempt to bend them to the will of Trump's policies."

"It also risks stoking the flames of xenophobia and hatred against immigrants—even though the report does not actually substantiate Trump's alarmism," he writes.

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