Bloomberg News

South Carolina Opposes U.S. Bid to Block New Immigration Law

November 24, 2011

(Updates with South Carolina’s argument in third paragraph.)

Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s administration asked a U.S. judge to deny the federal government’s request for a court order blocking parts of the state’s new immigration laws set to take effect on Jan. 1.

Haley, in papers filed yesterday with U.S. District Judge Richard M. Gergel in Charleston, argued that while the state’s laws concern illegal immigration, they don’t regulate it and don’t conflict with federal laws.

“Rather than interfering or conflicting with federal immigration law, Act 69 addresses state concerns and aids the federal government,” attorneys for the state said, referring to the legislation Haley signed into law in June.

Act 69 criminalizes an immigrant’s failure to carry a certificate of registration and requires law enforcement agents with reasonable suspicion to determine whether a person is lawfully within the U.S.

The U.S. sued to invalidate the law on Oct. 31, arguing that the measure interferes with the setting of national immigration policy and is unconstitutional.

On Nov. 7, the Justice Department asked Gergel for an order blocking the immigration-status provision and other parts of the legislation. In its response, South Carolina said the U.S. Constitution’s “supremacy clause” didn’t give the national government a right to sue.

The federal government has also sued to block immigration laws in Arizona, Alabama and, yesterday, Utah.

The case is U.S. v. State of South Carolina, 11cv2958, U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina (Charleston).

--Editors: Stephen Farr, Mary Romano

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Harris in Chicago at aharris16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Dunn at adunn8@bloomberg.net


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