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DOJ Sues to Block South Carolina Immigration Law Citing Conflict with Federal Enforcement of Immigration Laws

Published: Nov 1, 2011 6:45 am

Yesterday, the Department of Justice challenged South Carolina's immigration law, Act No. 69 in federal court, requesting declaratory and injunctive relief.  The DOJ argues that provisions of Act No. 69 interfere with the federal government’s authority to set and enforce immigration policy, and as such are unconstitutional.  

In part, provisions of Act No. 69, require a determination of immigration status during any lawful stop, detention, investigation, or arrest by the police where there is “reasonable suspicion” that an individual is unlawfully present in the United States, and establishes new state criminal sanctions against individuals that are unlawfully present.

The following is from the DOJ's Press release:

"Today’s lawsuit makes clear once again that the Justice Department will not hesitate to challenge a state’s immigration law, as we have in Arizona, Alabama and South Carolina, if we find that the law interferes with the federal government’s enforcement of immigration,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.   “It is understandable that communities remain frustrated with the broken immigration system, but a patchwork of state laws is not the solution and will only create problems.   We will continue to monitor the impact these laws might have on our communities and will evaluate each law to determine whether it conflicts with the federal government’s enforcement responsibilities."  

DHS continues to enforce federal immigration laws in South Carolina in smart, effective ways that focus our resources on criminal aliens, recent border crossers, repeat and egregious immigration law violators and employers who knowingly hire illegal labor,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.  “This kind of legislation diverts critical law enforcement resources from the most serious threats to public safety and undermines the vital trust between local jurisdictions and the communities they serve, while failing to address the underlying problem: the need for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level.”

Click here to read the 26 page complaint. 

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