Wednesday, September 30, 2020

South Carolina Law Enforcement Officials Not Sold on Anti-immigrant Legislation

A Senate judiciary subcommittee in the South Carolina state legislature voted 3-1 on Thursday to advance an Arizona-style bill one step closer to becoming law, but law enforcement officials say the bill raises many concerns and leaves numerous questions unanswered.

The full judiciary committee is expected to take action on the bill, which has been in consideration for over a year now, when the legislative session begins Tuesday. The proposed measure would enable local police and sheriff’s departments to enforce federal immigration laws, raising questions among the legislators on the legality on some parts of the bill.

Law enforcement officials have also said they will not take a position on the bill until their questions and concerns are answered.  The S.C. Sheriff’s Association is planning to discuss the law during their upcoming winter meeting.

“The biggest question I’ve got is: How are we supposed to verify somebody’s residency?” Jeff Moore, executive director of the group, said. “Having access to that information on the side of the road at 2 in the morning is going to be a problem.”

Similar to Arizona’s SB 1070, the bill forces law enforcement officers to check the legal status of someone who has been stopped for a non-immigration offense, if the officer has reasonable suspicion the person is in the country illegally.

Democratic State Sen. Robert Ford was the only committee member who voted against the bill.  The potential for profiling Hispanics, adding burdens placed on law enforcement and the absence of appropriate legal representation for detainees are all reasons why the bill should be rejected, Ford said.

He also cited the state’s reliance on immigrant labor for agricultural work, which is hard to fill with resident South Carolinians, as why he turned down the measure.

There is also little statistical evidence to support the argument that undocumented immigrants place a financial burden on the state.

Augusta Chronicle

Miami Herald

Miami Herald