The Herald, Rock Hill, S.C.: South Carolina officials have acknowledged that several parts of the state’s immigration law went too far in an attempt to crack down on undocumented immigrants. It should be clear that, for both legal and practical reasons, the state now should leave enforcement of most immigration laws to the federal government.
On March 3, the state accepted an opinion that much of its law, including portions that allowed local police to check people’s immigration status, were unconstitutional. While S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson said he would continue to weigh his legal options, he conceded the state’s defense of several parts of the law would not succeed.
Some parts of the law will survive. For example, a part of the law that went into effect in 2012 that requires businesses check the legal status of new hires through the so-called E-Verify system, will be permitted to remain in place.
But the courts struck down the most controversial parts of the law, including on-the-spot status checks by local police. Under the law, known as S.B. 20, local police could check the immigration status of people if a “reasonable suspicion” existed that they were in the country illegally.
But the court ruling said it was unconstitutional for police to extend regular traffic stops or jail stays so officers could determine the immigration status of suspects.
If our immigration laws need to be changed, Congress should do it.