Tuesday, June 14, 2011

South Carolina Immigration Bill Passes House and Senate.

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters)--South Carolina's House of Representatives approved on Tuesday a comprehensive illegal immigration bill that would allow police to ask for citizenship documentation from anyone they stop or detain for another reason.

It would also allow police to hold a person who fails to provide documentation until their citizenship status is determined.

The Republican-controlled House on Tuesday night voted 69-43 to approve a Senate bill and added amendments. The Senate must concur. If it does not, a conference committee will reconcile the two houses' differences.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is expected to sign the bill.

The South Carolina law also calls for the creation of a special Illegal Immigration Enforcement Unit within the state police department to work with federal Immigration and Customs officials.

The law would make it a crime to travel within the state without proper documentation or to transport or harbor any undocumented person within the state. It also punishes employers who hire undocumented workers.

The South Carolina state Senate passed a bill Thursday designed to give law enforcement more tools to fight illegal immigration.


The bill would allow local law enforcement officers the authority to detain a person while determining whether the person is in the country legally, but only after the person has been stopped on suspicion of another crime.It states that an investigation into the person's immigration status could only begin if the person failed to present a valid I.D.The bill differs from the controversial immigration law in Arizona in that the bill prohibits officers from making "an independent judgment of a person's lawful presence in the United States.""Biggest thing is, we don't criminalize the unlawful presence of someone in South Carolina," said Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens. "We'd like to do that, but the federal law preempts us."The bill says that the officer would need to contact U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to determine if a person should be arrested for immigration violations.The measure also proposes the creation of an Illegal Immigration Enforcement Unit within the South Carolina Department of Public Safety to serve as a mediator between local law enforcement and ICE.Other provisions of the bill include making it a felony to provide an illegal immigrant with fake identification, and a $5 fee on some wire transfers of money going from South Carolina to locations outside of the U.S.The fee would be raised to 1 percent on transfers of more than $500. Martin said the bill was amended to make sure the fee would not affect businesses in the state that perform large wire transfers of money on a regular basis.Opponents of the bill said the measure was likely to draw a lawsuit from the federal government for giving local law enforcement too much authority on immigration."It's going to subject South Carolina to tremendous legal fees, all for nothing but a few sounds bites that the Republicans thought that the tea party base just had to have," said Sen. Bradley Hutto, D-Orangeburg, who voted against the bill."We haven't done anything to chill (illegal immigrants') presence in the state. All we've done is put a burden on law enforcement," Hutto said.The bill will have to pass the House of Representatives before it can be signed into law.

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