ACLU Sues South Carolina to Block Anti-Immigration Law

  @DanRivoli on October 13 2011 10:27 AM
Immigration
Immigrants account for more than half of the less-skilled workers in America. REUTERS

The American Civil Liberties Union Thursday filed a class action to block South Carolina's anti-immigration law from going into effect next year, arguing that the law is unconstitutional and will lead to the detention of Hispanics.

The ACLU filed the suit on behalf of Hispanic civil rights and immigration groups, undocumented immigrants, and state residents who could face criminal charges for dealing with illegal aliens. The groups are seeking an injunction before the law goes into effect Jan. 1.

The lawsuit was filed on the heels of another federal action challenging an anti-immigration law in Alabama, which has caused an exodus of Hispanics from the state.

In recent days, we have seen the destructive results of a similar law in Alabama, and the people of South Carolina should not face the same fate, said Andre Segura, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project. This law must be blocked, as it tramples our American values, interferes with federal laws and risks turning South Carolina into a police state.

Prudent Legislation or Rights Violation?

These laws have proliferated in states with robust Republican legislative majorities, including Georgia and Arizona. Supporters say that state lawmakers are doing what they need to do to combat a growing immigration problem that the federal government has failed to tackle.

As the daughter of immigrants of who came to this country legally, Gov. Haley understands that no American value is more sacred than the rule of law. That's what this is about - nothing more, nothing less, said Rob Godfrey, a spokesman for the first-term Republican governor. And if the ACLU was really about what they claim to be, they'd stay out of our business and let us enforce our laws.

The federal government, however, has said that immigration is its domain and has filed lawsuits against Arizona and Alabama challenging the constitutionality of these laws.

These court cases are working their way through the appeals process and may end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.

While the U.S. Department of Justice hasn't initiated any court action against South Carolina, a department spokesman told a local paper on Sept. 30 that the immigration law is being reviewed.

Similar to other states' newly-enacted immigration laws, South Carolina's Illegal Immigration and Reform Act will require police to demand proof of citizenship if they believe someone is in the country illegally, creates a state-specific registration system, establishes criminal offenses for transporting and harboring illegal immigrants.

Join the Discussion