South Carolina’s immigration law is considered one of the toughest because of how much it is modeled off of Arizona’s controversial law known as the “Show me your papers” law. Now it is going back before a federal judge challenging its constitutionality.
Initially when the Arizona law went into effect, it was seen as too extreme and most of the provisions were struck down by the Supreme Court. However, one of the most controversial parts of the law was enacted earlier this year in Arizona called the “show me your papers” provision. This law allows police officers to ask for immigration papers when pulling someone over. The fear was that racial profiling would occur and people that looked a certain way would be more subject to being stopped by law enforcement than others. Also, this would require everyone to have some sort of proof of legal immigration status on them at all times. South Carolina’s law follows very similar provisions.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel blocked most of the South Carolina law including allowing law enforcement to check immigration status. The American Civil Liberties Union sued last December challenging the law’s constitutionality. Some parts of the law are still in place, such as requiring businesses to check the legal status of the employees they hire through a federal system. However, it is illegal to for officers to ask for the immigration status of anyone that they pull over. Gergel also refused to allow the entire law to go into effect January 1, despite South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson’s request.
The conflict over the constitutionality of the original Arizona law has been an ongoing dilemma. Five more states, including Missouri, have considered adopting the Arizona Law. In an attempt to address immigration reform, states are taking drastic measures to deter undocumented immigrants from “taking local jobs” or moving to a particular area.
An organization that is near and dear to my heart, Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates, has been tireless in its opposition to these draconian types of laws. With the Republicans picking up a few more seats in the Missouri legislature, more anti-immigrant legislation will sureltube introducehein the next General Assembly.
For more information regarding how state immigration laws, such as Missouri’s laws, may affect you, please call us at 314-961-8200.