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South Carolina businesses told to prep for new immigration law

With the new immigration law about to take effect in South Carolina, the state's Office of Immigrant Worker Compliance is advising businesses and employers across the state to get ready to comply with the new law.

The South Carolina Immigration Reform Act, which was signed into law by the governor in June, is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2012. The administrator of the Office of Immigrant Worker Compliance points out that the law may be the toughest in the country and that failure to comply could result in loss of the right to operate a business in South Carolina.

The new law requires that employers verify the citizenship status of all newly hired and existing employees using E-Verify, which is a database maintained by the federal government. The database keeps records of individuals who are both legally and illegally in the United States.

In South Carolina, all businesses will have to register with E-Verify with no exemptions being made with regard to having a certain number of employees as is the case in some states.

The law also creates and funds a new Immigration Enforcement Unit. Auditors from the unit will do field checks of employers to ensure compliance. They will also act on citizen complaints made about potential violators.

Some employers complain about the increased costs associated with compliance and that the process adds another step to the hiring of new employees. Others say they don't mind the extra work, especially in the light of the severe penalties that could be exacted for failure to comply.

The E-verify program started with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, 271,460 businesses across the country are participating in the program as of June 22.

Source: SCNow.com, "State warns businesses to prep for new immigration law," John Sweeney, Aug. 23, 2011.

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