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Southern state advances bill to ban sanctuary campuses

(Photo: Eric Gay, AP)

(Photo: Eric Gay, AP)

Lawmakers in Mississippi have advanced a bill that will prevent universities from concealing a student’s immigration status, effectively allowing them to operate as a sanctuary campus.

Senate Bill 2170 would prevent any state agency, including public colleges and universities, from helping to hide or shelter illegal immigrants from federal enforcement of immigration laws. Specifically, the bill seeks to prevent any efforts by a state agency to “adopt, or implement a policy, order, or ordinance that limits or prohibits any person from communicating or cooperating with federal agencies or officials to verify or report the immigration status of any person.”

Additionally, the bill imposes penalties on any colleges or university would would seek to defy such an order, saying that any government entity whom “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” would be in violation of state law.

Under this bill, granting an ID card to an undocumented student would be considered the same as granting them legal status, and any public college or university who did this would be in violation of the law. The bill would also override a 2010 ordinance passed in Jackson, MS that prevents police officers from inquiring about a person’s immigration status.

SB.2170 was passed in the Mississippi Senate in February, and approved with amendments by the Mississippi House of Representatives earlier this week. Governor Phil Bryant (R-MS) is expected to sign the bill into law next week.

The bill is likely in response to a bill proposed last year by members of the student government at the University of Mississippi, which would have turned the campus into a formal sanctuary for illegal immigrants, their families, and other undocumented members of the community. The bill sparked fierce criticism after its proposal, and the Student Senate was eventually forced to withdraw the motion.

Mississippi is one of many states that are finally cracking down on universities who are trying to shelter illegal immigrants. Last month, the Texas State Senate passed a bill imposing fines of up to $25,500 and cuts off funding to cities or public college campuses that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration laws and orders.

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