Arizona-style immigration reform leaves S.C. law enforcers with questions

The State (Columbia, S.C.)January 3, 2011 

Law enforcement officials say they want to know how a proposed state immigration law would work, adding they are unsure they have the resources to enforce it.

South Carolina legislators will consider an Arizona-style immigration bill, requiring law enforcement officers to check the residency status of suspected illegal immigrants, when their next session begins Jan. 11.

South Carolina is one of several states that will consider such bills this year. Gov-elect Nikki Haley, who takes office Jan. 12, has said she wants to crack down on illegal immigration.

The proposed law will be a topic during the upcoming winter meeting of the S.C. Sheriff’s Association, said Jeff Moore, the group’s executive director, adding there are many unanswered questions about how such a law would work. The group has not taken a position on the bill.

“The biggest question I’ve got is: How are we supposed to verify somebody’s residency?” Moore said. “Having access to that information on the side of the road at 2 in the morning is going to be a problem.”

At least two immigration bills have been filed in the S.C. Senate. One of the bills would toughen penalties against businesses that employ illegal immigrants.

State Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, who led a judiciary subcommittee working on immigration proposals, said his group plans to bring a bill to the Senate floor early in the session before the Legislature shifts its focus to other issues, including the state’s ongoing budget crisis and drawing new legislative districts.

Martin, who is a co-sponsor of the two Senate bills, says illegal immigrants cost the state a lot of money. Illegal immigrants run up unpaid health care bills, burden the public school system, improperly obtain benefits such as food stamps and cause an increase in crime, such as domestic violence, some legislators say.

There are few statistics to prove what kind of financial burden illegal immigrants put on the state.

To read the complete article, visit www.thestate.com.

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