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Federal government sues South Carolina over immigration law

Several weeks ago, we reported that advocacy groups are attempting to block South Carolina's controversial new immigration law that is set to take effect next year. Now, the federal government is getting in on the action.

The law would require employers and the police to use the digital E-Verify service to check on an individual's immigration status. Under the new law, businesses that do not check new hires' statuses could have their operating licenses revoked.

The law would also require police to check the immigration status for people they suspect are in the country illegally after traffic stops and other routine interactions. Officers are instructed to call federal immigration officials with any suspicions. Many are calling that unconstitutional.

Now, the government wants to stop enforcement of the legislation, which would go into effect Jan. 1, 2012. The government filed a lawsuit against South Carolina, and listed Gov. Nikki Haley, whose parents were immigrants from India, as a defendant.

Opponents of the legislation have compared some of its requirements to racial profiling. Officials with the Justice Department fear the law will cause new immigrants and foreign visitors to endure harassment, particularly if they cannot immediately prove their legal status.

Officials also want to ensure that federal money is not being diverted from other areas to, in essence, discriminate.

There are similar controversial laws in other states, including Alabama and Arizona. The government has challenged those as well. In Alabama, the Justice Department has set up a hotline and email address to make sure people's complaints are heard.

Source: Fox News, "Justice Department sues South Carolina over state's strict immigration law," Nov. 1, 2011

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