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Groups try to block new South Carolina immigration law

A new immigration law in South Carolina that mandates police and employers use the digital E-Verify service to check a person's immigration status is scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1, 2012, but not if two advocacy groups have anything to say about it.

The E-Verify service is overseen by the Department of Homeland Security. It is a free service that allows employers to check the citizenship status of current employees and job applicants.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, more than 288,000 employers in the U.S. used E-Verify as of Sept. 15, 2011, and 1,200 additional businesses sign up for the service weekly.

A federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Immigration Law Center claims that the new law supersedes federal legal jurisdiction and is unconstitutional. The suit also explains how the new anti-immigrant law encourages racial profiling of anyone who looks foreign to a police officer or potential employer.

If this legislation goes into effect, business owners who willingly employ undocumented workers will have their business licenses suspended and/or revoked by the state of South Carolina. Police officers will be obligated to question members of the public they assume to be in the United States without proper documentation.

The executive director of the South Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union stated that this new law will charge police officers in South Carolina with the duties bestowed upon Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol officials.

Other opponents of the law claim that it will impact the relationship between law enforcement officers and minority communities negatively. What do you think?

Source: Reuters, "Groups sue to halt South Carolina's new immigration law," Oct. 12, 2011.

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