SC immigration law to return to judge

astice@islandpacket.comNovember 12, 2012 


South Carolina's immigration law goes back today before a federal judge who previously blocked it.

Since U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel stopped the law last December, the U.S. Supreme Court has tossed out much of the Arizona law on which South Carolina's statute was based.

Among provisions struck down by the court were those making it a state crime not to carry immigration papers and for illegal immigrants to transport or house themselves.

Gergel also blocked a section of the S.C. law allowing police to check the immigration status of those they pull over if officers suspect they are in the country illegally. The Supreme Court let that provision in the Arizona law stand.

George Kanuck, co-chairman of the Lowcountry Immigration Coalition, said the organization is watching to see if the "show me your papers" measure makes it through the hearing in Charleston.

The coalition, along with the federal government, the American Civil Liberties Union and other local groups, challenged the constitutionality of the S.C. law. The plaintiffs have argued the status-check provision will lead to unfair targeting of Hispanics.

"Our position has been that we will ask the judge ... to enjoin the law until the state can give him a plan on how it will handle enforcement," Kanuck said.

That would include funding for training law-enforcement officers to avoid racial profiling, he said.

Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner said the challenge for states is to create immigration laws that don't conflict with federal law.

Either way, he already has a task force of deputies empowered to act as federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agents. The contract for the task force, authorized under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has been renewed until December, Tanner said.

Related content

  1. Blockage of immigration law just as well, Bluffton and Beaufort law enforcement says, Dec. 26, 2011
  2. Court could provide clarity on immigration status checks, July 7, 2012

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