Summerville Town Council approved one portion of an ordinance, which requires employers to check the immigration status of their worker. “It passed by a 5 to 1 vote, which I was glad to get it done. It’s been a long struggle with that thing,” says councilman Walter Bailey who proposed the ordinance.
Passing the business license portion of the ordinance means:
It tracks the state employment law and basically defers to the state procedure. We are just going to tag it on if there is a complaint made, we process it and send it to the state. The only new thing is we can suspend the town’s business license for violation, and also impose a fine in the event of violation.
South Carolina already has a business license law in place that tracks immigration status, preventing illegal immigrants from working in the state. Bailey says passing a similar ordinance in a small town like Summerville allows them to impose the town’s own penalty and suspend the town’s business license.
Bailey says for him, the passing is bitter sweet.
It’s sort of a half a loaf is better than none. The more effective provision would have been the housing, we are a bedroom community. There are a lot of people who rent here and work in Charleston and toughing up on the employment aspect of it is probably not going to help that much. We still have illegals living here and feeding off the system and working elsewhere.
Bailey says this may not be the last of the ordinance.
If some of the litigation going on out of state involving similar laws ends up being successful in the long-run, then we can go back and try to do it again. And, I will do that if things get better as far as the appeals.
Bailey says the other portion of the ordinance, preventing illegal immigrants from renting in the town, was tabled because other council members were afraid of lawsuits.