South Carolina's new immigration law exempts domestic and farm workers from otherwise mandatory background checks, a provision that opponents say undercuts its stated purpose.

As with stringent new immigration statutes recently passed in Arizona and Alabama, the South Carolina law was designed in part to make it difficult for undocumented immigrants to find work. South Carolina lawmakers trumpeted a requirement that employers check new hires against a federal database known as E-Verify, saying it would prevent immigrants from taking jobs sought by unemployed Americans.

But legislators evidently realized that certain types of jobs are unlikely to appeal to citizens. The law lifts the background check mandate for farm workers, domestic workers in private homes, ministers and fishermen on crews of 10 or fewer people. 

The migrant community operates on a whole different set of rules, state Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, told the Herald Online.

That reflects the experience of lawmakers in neighboring Georgia, who passed a tough new immigration law only to face an angry backlash from farmers who said a shortage of immigrant labor was leaving unpicked crops to rot. A coalition of business interests in Kansas is spearheading a push for a program that would let undocumented immigrants to work in industries, like feedlots and meat packing plants, that face shortages of willing workers.

But critics told the Herald Online that the exemptions directly counter the bill's goal of discouraging illegal immigration.

When you think of businesses that attract undocumented workers, you think of construction, Frank Knapp, executive director of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce, told the publication. And then you think of agriculture and you think of domestic workers. So, two of the top three places an illegal immigrant might go are exempt.