20 December 2011

South Carolina American immigration law could be blocked by federal judge

Tough American immigration laws proposed by the state of South Carolina are due to be adjudicated upon by a federal judge before the end of the year.

American visa

South Carolina's proposed immigration laws are due to be adjudicated upon by a federal judge.

The laws follow the establishment of what critics and supporters have called the toughest American immigration laws in the country, legislated by the state of Alabama in June this year, who were able to push their own proposals through thanks to a newly elected Republican legislative ‘super majority’. 

Federal judges have consistently blocked attempts to pass key components of tough immigration laws in several states including Georgia, Arizona, Utah and Indiana. South Carolina’s own proposal effectively turns police officers into immigration officials, who would be authorised to demand paperwork establishing legal residency, for example production of an American visa, if stopped for even minor offences, and subsequently whether that person should be arrested, in cooperation with the federal government.

Arthur Goldberg, a lawyer for the Justice Department, said the proposed law in South Carolina is akin to the state “[attempting] to have its own foreign policy”, and would prevent the United States from being consistent in immigration policy.

Other critics of the apparent new trend in American immigration law among some states, such as Vivek Malhotra, advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “It’s a sad state of affairs when lawmakers take pride in one upping another state that has now become notorious for inviting racial profiling to the state.”

At least two architects of Alabama’s law have already said they are having second thoughts, with the Republican attorney general calling for the strictest parts to be repealed. The signatory of the law, Gov. Robert Bentley, has since had to contact foreign executives and assure them that they and their companies remain welcome in Alabama.  

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.

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