Around 300 people rallied at the Missouri Capitol today to protest two bills backers say are designed to combat illegal immigration.
Rally leaders were especially critical of a Senate bill that would require all law officers to check the immigration status of those they stop, detain or arrest if they have a “reasonable suspicion” that they’re in the country illegally (SB 590). Vanessa Crawford is Executive Director of the group Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates.
“If (police are) at a traffic stop, if they’re at the scene of an accident, if they got called to a domestic violence claim or any other crime, instead of dealing with the situation at hand, they would have to ask people for their papers," Crawford said.
The bill would also require school districts to verify whether new students or their parents are in the U.S. illegally. Faizan Syed is with the Missouri chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
“This is, we feel, against the spirit of Missouri and against the spirit of how our nation was formed," Syed said. "Everybody here is an immigrant, and everybody here that comes should have the right to work freely and should not be harassed by the government (of the country) they live in.”
Syed and others at the rally also spent the day visiting lawmakers’ offices and lobbying them to oppose the bill, which has passed a Senate committee and is awaiting floor action. Rally leaders also spoke against legislation passed by the Missouri House that would require driver’s license exams be given in English only.