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Federal judge halts South Carolina immigration lawsuit

A judge for the US District Court for the District of South Carolina [official website] on Monday placed a hold on a lawsuit over the state's new immigration law [SB 20] pending the outcome of a similar case to be heard by the US Supreme Court [official website]. The South Carolina legislation requires police officers to check a suspect's immigration status during a lawful stop, seizure, detention or arrest if they believe the person may be in the country illegally and requires businesses to participate in the E-Verify [official website] system. An Arizona judge struck down similar provisions in that state's immigration law [SB 1070 materials] and issued an injunction, upheld [JURIST report] by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website], barring provisions of the law from taking effect. The Supreme Court agreed [JURIST report] in December to rule Arizona's controversial immigration law granting certiorari [JURIST report] in Arizona v. United States [docket] to determine if Arizona's law is preempted by federal law.

Similar immigration laws are being challenged throughout the US. In December a federal judge blocked [JURIST report] portions of the South Carolina law. Judge Richard Gergel blocked the provision that requires police to check immigration status, finding, "[t]his state-mandated scrutiny is without consideration of federal enforcement priorities and unquestionably vastly expands the persons targeted for immigration enforcement action. He also blocked the provision that outlaws harboring or transporting an illegal immigrant, finding a likelihood of irreparable harm. The law was set to take effect January 1. Also in December, Alabama and Georgia filed motions in the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] seeking to stay proceedings [JURIST report] on challenges to their immigration laws pending the Supreme Court ruling in Arizona v. United States. A challenge is also pending to an immigration law in Utah, and an Indiana law has been blocked [JURIST reports] by a federal judge.

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