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South Carolina judge un-blocks 'show me your papers' law

Everyone who lives in South Carolina has heard about the immigration laws that were adopted by lawmakers in 2011. The laws are very similar in nature to Arizona's controversial immigration reform, which was challenged by the federal government before the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year.

South Carolina's new laws, which were set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2012, were also challenged by the federal government for being unconstitutional, and a federal district court judge blocked portions of the laws, including the "show me your papers" provision.

This provision requires police to check the immigration status of people they pull over if it's suspected that they are in the country illegally.

When the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case against Arizona's immigration laws, it also blocked several of the provisions. However, it upheld Arizona's "show me your papers" provision, finding that there was insufficient proof to warrant it unconstitutional.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, the South Carolina federal court judge said he would need to re-consider his decision in light of the Supreme Court's ruling, and that's what he did last week.

Last week, the federal district court judge lifted the injunction on South Carolina's "show me your papers" provision, which means state police will soon be allowed to check the immigration status of people they pull over or arrest.

"After a lawful stop has been made for a violation here in South Carolina, if they have reasonable suspicion, then they can further investigate," the commander of the state's Immigration Enforcement Unit, explained in an interview Friday. He said his unit will now focus on the meaning of "reasonable suspicion."

Now that the block has been lifted and the "show me your papers" provision will soon be in effect, South Carolina residents need to know how to protect their rights. As specified by the federal judge, police cannot hold someone for the sole purpose of checking their immigration status, and they cannot hold someone for an unreasonable amount of time while they run the check.

This violation of rights could potentially serve as a valid defense against deportation.

Source: 7 On Your Side, "SC to Start Enforcing Part of State Immigration Law," Robert Kittle, Nov. 16, 2012

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