Federal Court Blocks Most of South Carolina's Anti-Immigrant Law

November 15, 2012 4:20 pm

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Court Recognizes Law’s Harms; Sets Narrow Limits on Police Conduct

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CHARLESTON, S.C. – A federal court today blocked key provisions of South Carolina’s anti-immigrant law and recognized that harms could take place if police check a person’s immigration status, inviting additional challenges of civil rights abuses.

The decision affirms a December 2011 ruling that blocked key sections of the law, including those that aimed to turn unlawful presence into a state crime, and to turn everyday activities such as giving a ride or renting an apartment to an undocumented immigrant into a crime.

While the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina in Charleston allowed for implementation of a “show me your papers” provision, it invites future challenges involving lengthy detentions and other civil rights issues.

“The court said it would be unconstitutional for state and local officers to detain individuals on the basis of their status alone,“ said Andre Segura, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “We will continue to closely monitor the law’s enforcement in order to ensure people’s basic rights are protected.”

The court issued the decision to ensure that its prior ruling was in line with the guidance provided by the U.S. Supreme Court in June in a case regarding Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, SB 1070.

“The ruling makes it clear that it is not a crime simply for people to be in this state and that SC can’t pass its own immigration laws,” We will be watching to see if law enforcement respects the caution against prolonged detention.”

In addition to the ACLU and the ACLU of South Carolina, the law was contested by the National Immigration Law Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, MALDEF, the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, LatinoJustice PRLDF, Lloyd Law Firm, and Rosen, Rosen & Hagood.

Members of the coalition have also filed lawsuits against state anti-immigrant laws in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, Utah and Indiana. Courts have blocked major portions of these laws. In Alabama and Georgia, the U.S. Court for the Appeals for the 11th Circuit also recently blocked the South Carolina transporting and harboring provisions.

For a copy of the decision: www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights/lowcountry-immigration-coalition-et-al-v-nikki-haley-order-limited-remand

For more information on the South Carolina case: www.aclu.org/immigrants-rights/lowcountry-immigration-coalition-et-al-v-nikki-haley

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