South Carolina Is Latest to Pass Immigration Crackdown

South Carolina lawmakers voted Tuesday (June 21) to send Governor Nikki Haley an Arizona-style immigration measure that opponents are already promising to attack in court.

The measure, which Haley says she will sign, requires police officers to ask suspects about their immigration status and to report potentially unlawful immigrants to the federal government, The Associated Press reports . It also requires businesses in South Carolina to use the federal E-Verify system to determine whether job applicants are legal residents.

South Carolina becomes at least the third state this year, along with Alabama and Georgia, to approve a tough new immigration law. Arizona last year became the first state to do so, drawing the criticism of President Obama and resulting in an economic boycott of the state.

The new laws in Alabama, Arizona and Georgia - along with others in Indiana and Utah - are being fought in court by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is planning to fight the South Carolina measure, too. Andre Segura, an ACLU attorney in New York, tells the AP that the South Carolina measure and others are "a definite throwback to the pre-civil rights era. It really strikes at the heart of American values and makes these states into 'show-me-your-papers' states."

But supporters of the South Carolina bill say the federal government has left the states no choice. "If Washington refuses to effectively support our law enforcement officers by enforcing immigration laws, it is left up to the states to stand up and do what is right," South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell said Tuesday, according to the AP. "That is exactly what South Carolina did today by making sure our officers have the enforcement tools they need during this time of federal indecision." 

Tags: Immigration