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South Carolina at the front of verifying status of workers

Federal efforts to standardize immigration verification procedures for American workers have floundered as legislators have been unable to agree on how to draft reform laws. In the absence of a coordinated norm, most states have developed their own methods of tracking the immigration statuses of the people working within their borders. South Carolina has done so and appears to be leading the national effort to achieve workplace compliance with immigration laws.

The state has attached hefty penalties, such as having one's business license revoked, for failing to comply with the Illegal Aliens and Private Employment Act. Enforcement of the law has occurred through widespread corporate auditing to make sure that employers are only employing individuals with a legal right to be in the United States.

While the state's efforts to enforce its own immigration laws are commendable in that it has followed through on its own legislation, its actions have made working in the state very challenging for those who have not yet achieved legal status. Though some service industries and farming are not included in the state's workplace compliance requirements, individuals who are not in the country legally may be unable to find employment that pays enough for them to survive.

The state's workplace compliance laws may also impact how non-United States citizens are granted work permits. Though the federal government can issue employment visas to individuals who possess specialized skills and whose abilities can benefit American employers, finding work at the local level can be very challenging for individuals with uncertain legal statuses.

Employment immigration is just one small piece of the greater issue of immigration reform. As the state continues to crack down on South Carolina employers, individuals who do not have citizenship or legal residency may continue to fight for their right to work in gainful occupations. Those who wish to enter the country to work may benefit from the assistance of immigration attorneys who can lead them through the employment visa process.

Source:, "S.C. leads in immigration workplace compliance," Franco Ordoñez, Jan. 19, 2014

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