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South Carolina drops defense of controversial immigration law

The South Carolina Attorney General's Office [official website] said [text, PDF] Monday that it would comply with a court order [text, PDF] enjoining it from enforcing the controversial "show me your papers" provision of the state's recently enacted immigration law [SB 20 text]. In what is being called a victory for immigrants' rights, the state will no longer defend the provision that allowed police officers to demand proof of citizenship or legal residency during routine traffic stops and to detain individuals to determine their immigration status. The law is based on the model provided by Arizona's divisive 2011 immigration law, SB 1070 [materials].

Immigration laws [JURIST backgrounder] have became a hot button issue over the past few years when many states passed laws giving their state and local officials more power to crack down on illegal immigration, following Arizona's example. In December New Jersey Governor Chris Christie [official website] signed a bill [JURIST report] that will allow students who immigrated illegally to receive in-state tuition rates at state colleges. The state of Alabama agreed [JURIST report] in October to block a number of provisions from their own controversial immigration law. The South Carolina law was first challenged [JURIST report] in October 2011 by the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center [advocacy websites] and other civil rights groups.

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