Last June, South Carolina lawmakers passed a strict new immigration law that makes it extremely difficult for undocumented immigrants to live and work in the state. The law was supposed to go into effect in January, but a judge blocked portions of it after the federal government filed a lawsuit to stop the law.
The portions of the law that were blocked include the section ordering police to check the immigration status of people they pull over if it's suspected the person is in the country illegally, the section that makes it a crime for immigrants to not carry immigration paperwork at all times and the section that makes it illegal for immigrants to transport or house themselves.
The federal government, which argued that the law is a violation of its own right to regulate immigration policy, was joined in the suit by civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union. Recently, the ACLU's mobile rights team was in South Carolina criticizing the bill for its tendency to promote racial profiling.
At the ACLU's event, a pastor spoke of an immigrant family that was torn apart after the mom and two older sons were deported. He said the oldest boy suffers from epilepsy and can't get necessary treatment in Mexico, where he was born.
The ACLU has called on the president to enact a federal immigration law that would treat immigrants fairly. A freshman lawmaker from South Carolina told the crowd at the ACLU's gathering that the president needs to address immigration reform to prevent states from taking it into their own hands.
"We talk about we are a family, we have our family values, and a family oriented society, but yet we have these laws that are tearing these families apart," said the lawmaker.
The fate of South Carolina's new immigration law now lies in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, which recently heard arguments for and against Arizona's very similar immigration law. The decision in that case will have a direct effect on the immigration policy of South Carolina and every other state.
Source: Midlands Connect, "ACLU condemns SC immigration law," Adam Pinsker, May 1, 2012