[JURIST] The South Carolina House of Representatives [official website] voted [voting history] 69-43 on Tuesday to enact legislation aimed at reforming the state’s immigration laws. The immigration reform bill [SB 20 text] allows police officers to check a suspect’s immigration status during a lawful stop, seizure, detention, or arrest, and mandates businesses to participate in the E-Verify [official website] system, which confirms a person’s employment eligibility. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) [advocacy websites], along with other civil rights groups announced they will file a lawsuit [press release] challenging the South Carolina immigration reform legislation. Immigrant advocacy groups, like the Southern Poverty Law Center Immigrant Justice Project [advocacy website] argue that the South Carolina laws and other similar laws invite racial profiling and infringe on human rights:
It is extremely disappointing to see the South Carolina state legislature following in these ill-fated footsteps by passing this legislation that will sacrifice citizens’ safety, cost the state an untold amount in taxpayer dollars and perpetuate bigotry. If Gov. Haley signs this legislation, SPLC will join our counterparts in fighting this unconstitutional and racist law to protect the civil rights of every South Carolinian.
The legislation will now proceed to South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley [official website] for signing.
Several other state legislatures have acted recently to implement so-called “Arizona style” immigration laws. The North Carolina House of Representatives [official website] voted [JURIST report] in June to pass a bill [HB 36 text, PDF; materials] requiring all employers with 25 or more employees to check the immigration status of their hires using the E-Verify system. In April, the Indiana House of Representatives [official website] voted [JURIST report] 64-32 to approve a bill [Amended SB 590 text; materials] considered to be a “watered-down” version of the Arizona immigration bill [JURIST news archive]. Alabama, Virginia, Oklahoma and Utah [JURIST reports] have all approved Arizona-style immigration bills within the past year. In May, the US Supreme Court [official website] upheld [JURIST report] an Arizona law requiring employers to utilize the E-Verify system, finding that it was not preempted by the Immigration Reform and Control Act [text] and thus not a violation of the Supremacy Clause [text]. This decision could have an impact on lawsuits challenging legislation in other states.