South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley signed an illegal immigration bill into law Monday. The controversial new law would allow police to check a person’s immigration status if they have reasonable suspicion that person is in the country illegally. The check could only happen if police stop or arrest the person for another reason.
During the signing ceremony, Haley– the daughter of legal Indian immigrants herself– said it is not an anti-immigration law.
“This is not an anti-tolerance bill. This is not a bill that pushes away one group for another group. This is a bill that enforces laws. I will tell you that we are a country of laws and when we give (that up)… we give up everything this country is founded on.”
Opponents say the law will lead to racial profiling of Hispanics. The governor disputed that, saying she had faith in law enforcement.
South Carolina Hispanic Leadership Council President Gregory Torrales said illegal immigration is not a major problem in the state.
“It’s a sad day in South Carolina when our legislators and our governor focus more on one percent of the population than on our ten percent that’s unemployed.”
The ACLU is threatening to sue South Carolina, saying the law is unconstitutional and infringes on the federal government’s authority. Governor Haley said she is not worried about a lawsuit.
“I have a long list of lawsuits that continue to come my way. The more they send lawsuits just reminds me the more I’m doing my job for the state of South Carolina.”
The law also requires employers to check new workers’ backgrounds through the federal E-Verify system. It also puts tougher penalties on those businesses frequently caught hiring illegal workers.