The U.S. Supreme Court in June struck down major provisions of the Arizona anti-immigration legislation, indicating that states may not enact such legislation when it is in conflict with federal immigration law.
The court, however, permitted the "show me your papers" provision, which invites the strong possibility of racial profiling. This action also affects the state of South Carolina's copycat legislation known as SB20, which was enjoined from implementation in December 2011. Next month, U.S. Judge Richard Gergel in Charleston will hold a hearing on SB20 and will determine what provisions of the Supreme Court decision will be permitted in our state. The Lowcountry Immigration Coalition, the lead local plaintiff in the South Carolina lawsuit, continues to think that the racial profiling provision is highly discriminatory and in contravention of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. In order to enforce the provision, the state would have to check the immigration status of every person, at every stop, for every purpose, every time. Short of this, racial profiling will occur. No matter the result of the hearing, our coalition continues to support comprehensive immigration reform that encompasses border security with a requirement for all immigrants to register, undergo a criminal check, pay any back taxes and possible fines and learn English. We call upon whoever is elected president in November to work with Congress to enact such reform as a high priority. We remain a nation whose motto is "E pluribus unum," or "Out of many, one." Eric Esquivel Lowcountry Immigration Coalition Hilton Head Island