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South Carolina law causes concern for immigrant parents

A new immigration law in South Carolina is causing concern for many immigrant parents of the state's students.

The law was signed by the South Carolina governor in June, and it allows local police officers to investigate a person's immigration status if they believe the person could be in the country illegally.

Currently, the law, which is set to take effect in January, will not require a student's legal status to be investigated. However, the vice president of the Council for Mexicans in the Carolinas said the law makes her worried about the parents who transport their children to and from school, who would potentially be at risk of being arrested.

Also, those people who do not carry identification papers or immigration documents could also be punished under the law. The vice president said the effect can have devastating results and can create fear throughout communities.

A high school student who immigrated to the United States as an infant confirmed the fear among immigrant students in high schools. He said a lot of students debate whether to return to their home country, even though this is where they grew up.

He added that the law essentially closed all means for these young people to continue education in South Carolina. He, for one, has been unable to enter college due to the lacking immigration paperwork and college funding.

Although the law has been approved by the legislature and governor, the U.S. Justice Department hopes to cease its enforcement through a lawsuit accusing the law of being unconstitutional. The case will be heard in December.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, South Carolina holds roughly 5 percent or more than 235,000 Latinos in its population and about one-fourth of them do not have immigration documents.

If you are one of these people, now is the time to become a permanent resident or naturalized citizen. Help is available to get you and your family through the complex immigration process.

Source: Fox News Latino, "Parents of Students Worry over South Carolina Immigration Law," Nov. 16, 2011.

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