Mississippi braces for potential impact as U.S. ends Title 42 policy on immigration

Published: May. 16, 2023 at 7:44 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Title 42, a policy put in place during the pandemic to prevent immigrants from entering the U.S., came to an end last week.

Some believe Mississippi could see the impact of this change soon.

It’s a concern for many states that border Mexico or have asylum shelters available. Some analysists are predicting a 40% increase with Title 42 gone.

Representative Mark Green, Tennessee (R), says that’s another 9 million people in two years.

Even though the number of migrants who flooded the southern U.S. border last week has dropped, some here in Mississippi believe it’s only a matter of time before immigrants arrive looking for access to basic necessities.

“I see access to food, access to housing, [and] access to medical care. A lot of people are not eligible for those programs if they’re not US citizens or permanent residents,” L. Patricia Ice, Director of the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, said.

“Our resources are not as extensive if we start to handle large populations, and you may not have housing and things like that,” Scott County Sheriff Mike Lee explained.

Besides lack of housing and feeding programs from those seeking asylum, both documented or not — hundreds will have to go to the one of three immigration court options available in this region.

“In the court system, they’re waiting a long time. They’re waiting and sometimes they’re waiting without work authorization. That’s a huge issue if you can’t work and be here. The work authorization is tied to the driver’s license here in Mississippi,” Ice explained.

“Some of my uncles have been here, more than 20 years as well. They’ve been trying to work on getting their documents and stuff and, you know, the backlog doesn’t help them,” Nataly Camacho with MIRA said.

With longer wait times in federal courts and fewer resources in counties with higher migrant populations — locals are concerned the state hasn’t prepared enough for migrants or citizens.

“It’s already a backlog. So it’s only just going to get big, like, more and more over time,” Camacho said.

“It’d be very taxing on the schools, for larger populations to come in, that might be seeking that asylum. It does concern me with so many at the border crossing, that this could become taxing to Scott County,” Sheriff Lee said.

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