The news outlets in South Carolina have been buzzing yesterday and today, reporting that the state's House Judiciary Constitutional Laws Subcommittee voted this week to approve a bill that would require law enforcement officers in the state to check the legal status of anyone that they believe could be an illegal alien.
The 3-2 vote sent the bill on to the full House Judiciary Committee and means that it is one step closer to becoming law during this year's legislative session. In addition, penalties of up to $50,000 were added to punish businesses that are caught repeatedly hiring people without the proper identification, and then refuse to remain temporarily shut down as a result.
Apparently, this addition was a request made by the director of South Carolina's labor agency, who said that the provision would help to enforce the state's 2008 anti-illegal immigration law.
The 2008 law, which was one of the country's toughest at the time, has been enforced on businesses for the past year now and sternly requires employers to check the legal status of their workers, and temporarily shuts down businesses that repeatedly violate the law or hire illegal workers knowingly.
Despite the fact that the bill passed, it was reported that many people testified at the hearing that the bill would lead to racial profiling and could result in immigrants bring too scared to report crimes. In all, dozens of people gave personal reasons as to why they either opposed or supported the bill.
Currently, there are only three weeks left in the legislative session, so proponents of the bill want the lawmakers to act fast. The bill goes before the full House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday of next week.
Source: Greenfield Daily Reporter, "South Carolina House advances bill requiring officers to try to check suspects' legal status," Seanna Adcox, 5/12/2011.