United States Congressman Luis Gutierrez visited Charleston this week, urging the Hispanic population to take a stand against the newly adopted South Carolina immigration law, known as SB 20.
"This legislation spurs racial profiling and is un-American. We have to fight together and do everything possible because the government cannot continue separating families," the congressman told Hispanic leaders at a meeting Sunday.
The controversial law, which is set to take effect in January, requires law enforcement officials to question a person's immigration status at traffic stops if the officer "reasonably" believes the person could be in the country illegally.
The congressman also told members of South Carolina's Hispanic community to become educated about the new federal deportation policy in effort to better defend themselves. He said that local leaders also need to be aware of the new policy.
A few months ago, the Department of Homeland Security said that it would begin reviewing deportations on a case-by-case basis, primarily focusing on people who had been convicted of crimes and pose a threat to society.
The congressman said that the number one way deportations are initiated is following traffic stops. He said that under DHS's new policy, if a traffic stop is the only thing against the person, the person should be released.
Officials need to use their discretion as instructed, and members of the Hispanic community need to insist that discretion is used, he said.
As we have written about in the past, the federal government and the American Civil Liberties Union have both taken issue with South Carolina's new immigration law.
Next month, a federal district court in Charleston will hear arguments both for and against the law. If the court agrees that the law is unconstitutional, it will not take effect in January. Of course, any decision made at the district court level could be appealed.
If you or someone you love is facing deportation, remember that you have options. It can be a scary process, but help is available.
Source: Fox News Latino, "Lawmaker Urges South Carolina Latinos to Fight Immigration Law," Nov. 21, 2011.