State Immigration Laws Could Begin To Fall Like Dominoes

South Carolina is up next, they’re calling it Alabama-lite. Think of it as the next falling domino in the contrived line of  state-level immigration laws. The Alabama  law has become the high standard of draconian immigration legislation, and this latest one, in South Carolina falls short of that mark.

That doesn’t make it any less harmful.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, the gist of the bill,

scheduled to become law Jan. 1., allows law enforcement officers to ask for proof of citizenship from people they may suspect of being undocumented. It also criminalizes harboring or transporting people known to be in the country illegally and punishes immigrants if caught without a certificate of registration.

The law also criminalizes the transportation or harboring of undocumented worker and creates a special state police unit that will deal exclusively with immigration cases and coordinate efforts with local and federal law enforcement.

Rather tame, comparatively speaking. Still, the Obama administration will have none of it.

The US Department of Justice filed its lawsuit Monday, arguing that the federal government has the “preeminent” authority in immigration reform and that the rigidity of the South Carolina law “will cause the detention and harassment of authorized visitors, immigrants, and citizens who do not have or carry identification documents specified by the statute.”

The DOJ is asking a federal court for time, in the form of a temporary injunction, so that the law can be scrutinized in a trial. The Obama administration is basically looking to replicate the course taken in Alabama, Georgia, Arizona, Indiana and Utah where judges blocked parts of similar laws.

The federal argument has not changed. U.S. Assistant Attorney General Tony West told Reuters:

Although states may exercise their police power in a manner that has an incidental or indirect effect on aliens, a state may not establish its own immigration policy or enforce state laws in a manner that interferes with federal immigration laws.

It may not have to come to that. South Carolina, in the mean time, is keeping a close eye on what happens in Alabama. Mark Tompkins, a political science professor at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, put it this way in an interview for the Chistian Science Monitor piece:

In a sense, we’re a footnote to the story. What happens in Alabama will overshadow what will happen here.

So law makers and law enforcement officers from every level of government in the country are watching this one closely. The thinking is that if the Alabama law doesn’t pass federal judicial muster, the rest of the states that have immigration laws in process or in the books will fall – like dominoes.

[Photo By Video4net]

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