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Parts of South Carolina immigration law blocked by judge

Earlier this week, we discussed how a South Carolina U.S. District judge is presiding over the U.S. Department of Justice's lawsuit to block the controversial immigration law that has been adopted in the state.

At Monday's hearing, the judge made it clear that only portions of the law would be blocked, not the whole thing. But no one knew for sure which portions would stay and which would go.

Well, now we know. Yesterday, the judge released his order, just days after attorneys for the state and federal governments argued their sides. Here are the sections of the law that will be blocked when the law goes into effect on Jan. 1:

  1. The section ordering police to check the immigration status of people they pull over if it's suspected that they are in the country illegally.
  2. The section that makes it a crime for immigrants to not carry immigration paperwork at all times.
  3. The section that makes it illegal for immigrants to transport or house themselves.
  4. The section that makes it a criminal offense to be an illegal immigrant in the state.

In his order, the judge reasoned that the state had violated the federal government's right to regulate immigration policy.

"It is clear to the Court that Congress did not intend to allow the state any further role beyond arresting persons allegedly harboring or transporting unlawfully present persons," the judge wrote.

On the other hand, a provision of the law that will go into effect on New Year's Day is the one relating to the federal E-Verify program.

This provision requires all businesses to check each new employee's legal status through the online E-Verify system. Businesses that willing violate this law can lose their licenses under the new law.

Of course, this will not be the final say on the matter as the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the federal government's challenge to Arizona's similar law in 2012. The ruling in that case will have a direct effect on the immigration policy of South Carolina and every other state.

Source: The Associated Press, "Federal judge halts key parts of SC immigrant law," Meg Kinnard, Dec. 23, 2011

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