On December 22, 2011, a judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina issued a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of key provisions of the South Carolina immigration statute. Last month, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson (photo) filed papers in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals requesting that court reverse the lower court’s ruling.
Wilson represents the Palmetto State in its defense of the immigration law passed last year. The challenge to the law’s constitutionality was filed by a group of civil rights organizations and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Of the 20 sections of the South Carolina law, four of them were challenged and, since the ruling handed down in December by District Court Richard Gergel, are now temporarily enjoined from being carried out. These four include provisions which that state criminal sanctions for: “harboring and transporting of unlawfully present persons”; “failure to carry alien registration materials”; “the creation of fraudulent identification documents”; and the directive to state and local law enforcement officials to “determine the immigration status of certain persons encountered in routine traffic stops and other contacts in which there is a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that the person may be in the United States unlawfully.”
The civil rights groups challenging the law argue that enforcement of the law requires de facto racial profiling. The Justice Department argues that the Constitution places all power over the establishment of immigration policy in the hands of the federal government and that the legislature of South Carolina is thus preempted from passing legislation in that area of the law.
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Photo: South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson