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Key provisions of South Carolina immigration law blocked

Last week, a U.S. Court of Appeals panel in South Carolina upheld a block against key parts of the state's strict immigration law that essentially makes it a crime for undocumented immigrants to even be in the state. In their unanimous ruling, the three judges cited the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down similar portions of Arizona's immigration law.

The ruling stated that the nation's highest court "recognized in Arizona that 'as a general rule, it is not a crime for a removable alien to remain present in the United States.'" The law they were referring to is one that makes it illegal to "conceal," "harbor," "shelter," or "transport" an undocumented immigrant in the state of South Carolina, whether the activities were being performed by the undocumented immigrant or a person assisting the undocumented immigrant.

The judges held that it would be virtually impossible for an undocumented immigrant to step foot in the state without breaking this law, and the Supreme Court has already held that simply being present in the country is not a crime. A temporary block on two other provisions was also upheld by the federal appeals court.

The other provisions that remain blocked include one that makes it a crime to fail to carry an alien registration card, and another that makes it a crime to display a false identification card.

However, South Carolina's "show me your papers" provision of the law is still in effect, which means that police officers are instructed to ask for immigration papers from people who are stopped and are suspected to be in the country illegally. A temporary block on this provision was lifted by another federal court last year.

The U.S. Supreme Court did not strike down a provision similar to this one in Arizona's law because the challenging parties could not yet prove that the provision results in racial profiling, as was being argued. But the Court left an opportunity for challenges in the future based on this claim.

Source: ThinkProgress.org, "Two Bush-Appointed Judges Block Anti-Immigrant South Carolina Law," Nicole Flatow, July 23, 2013

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