On Tuesday, the South Carolina legislature passed one of the toughest anti-immigration laws in the country–an action that is sure to draw a suit from the ACLU and, more than likely, the U.S. Justice Department. The law attacks illegal immigration on a variety of fronts. First, all businesses licensed by the state are required to use the federal government’s E-Verify system to ensure that every person that they hire is a citizen or legal resident of the U.S. The South Carolina law applies to every business–even if the business only has 1 employee. Last week, South Carolina obtained permission from the Department of Homeland Security to utilize the system to audit South Carolina businesses to ensure their compliance. Any business that fails to verify employees immigration status may have their state business license revoked, consistent with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The law also requires law enforcement officers to attempt to verify the citizenship status of any person who is stopped on probable cause of committing another crime, even a misdemeanor. The law further gives any citizen the right to sue any local government agency that refuses to implement this requirement.
This new anti-immigration law once again puts South Carolina into direct conflict with the Obama administration. The state was already enmeshed in conflicts with the federal government over a recent law requiring photo identification in order to vote, a constitutional amendment requiring a secret election for union certification, and the legal dispute with the NLRB over Boeing’s location of a new assembly line in South Carolina.