Some of Mississippi's top political leaders have expressed conflicting viewpoints on whether Mississippi should provide refuge for those who entered the country illegally and are being held at the U-S border with Mexico. Governor Phil Bryant and 2nd District Congressman Bennie Thompson have both written letters to President Obama on the issue.
Close to 60-thousand unaccompanied children have illegally entered the U-S since last year; sparking a crisis along the nation's Southern border. Many states have been suggested as a place to house the immigrants temporarily, including Mississippi. However, Governor Phil Bryant has come out strongly opposed to the suggestion. In a letter written to President Obama, last week, Bryant says he intends to prohibit the federal government from housing large numbers of illegal immigrants in Mississippi.
"We simply do not have the resources, the location in which to house children who come here and do not speak our language, have no relatives in Mississippi." says Bryant. "So what I asked the President to do was let us know, please notify us, if that was going to occur so that we could at least prepare ourselves, and hopefully that will not occur here in the state of Mississippi. They need to be dealing with border states so that they might be able to return those children home as quickly as possible."
In response to the governor's letter, Mississippi 2nd District Congressman Bennie Thompson, the state's lone Democrat in Congress, wrote his own letter to the President saying the governor doesn't speak for all Mississippians. Thompson called the situation a humanitarian crisis and said a number of facilities in Mississippi have contacted his office for information on how they could help house the children. Bill Chandler represents one of those organizations the Mississippi Immigrant's Rights Alliance.
"There so much violence there that people are sending their children North." says Chandler. "Many of the children had relatives that have been killed, and have been threatened with death themselves unless they join gangs and decided risk taking the trip North and to seek asylum in the United States. We feel very strongly that most of them eligible for asylum here."
In 2012, Bryant signed an executive order aimed at prohibiting those who entered the country illegally from receiving public benefits.