Judge Halts SC Immigration Law
In recent months, federal judges around the country have ruled on various provisions of state anti-immigration laws in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana and Utah. Adding its name to that list is South Carolina, where the state legislature passed A69/S20 in June and a federal district judge issued a ruling last week blocking many of the provisions from going into effect. The law requires law enforcement to call federal immigration officials if they suspect a person of being in the country illegally, in addition to other provisions including criminalizing renting a room to an undocumented immigrant or even driving them somewhere in your car. Opponents of this legislation (and similar bills that have been considered in other states) believe that many of the provisions would lead to racial profiling.
The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit to prevent the South Carolina law from taking effect on January 1, 2012. In the lawsuit, the Justice Department states that South Carolina’s law undermines the authority of the federal government and asserts that only the federal government can author and enforce immigration policy. Governor Nikki Haley continues to argue that her state needed to create the immigration law because the federal government has failed in its obligation to curb the flow of undocumented immigrants into the country.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel temporarily blocked provisions of the South Carolina law, including one of the most controversial sections that allows law enforcement officials to ask for documents from anyone they suspect of residing in the U.S. illegally. Judge Gergel did uphold one provision that requires undocumented immigrants to be transferred from state to federal custody.
The Reform Movement shares the growing concern over undocumented immigration but believes that legislation such as South Carolina’s does not properly treat the problem and instead furthers discriminatory treatment of immigrants. We applaud Judge Gregel for temporarily enjoining much of this distressing law and look forward to the Supreme Court hearing arguments on Arizona’s S.B. 1070, which was the basis for much of South Carolina’s law and those in other states.
For updates on the cases and more information on immigration, visit the RAC’s immigration resources page.