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Department of Justice Files Lawsuit against South Carolina’s Anti-Immigrant Law

November 2, 2011 - Posted by The Leadership Conference

The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against South Carolina’s new immigration law on Monday, arguing that “the law’s operation will cause irreparable harm.”

The suit states that certain provisions of the South Carolina law, known as SB20, are “unconstitutional and interfere with the federal government’s authority to set and enforce immigration policy.” DOJ also warns that SB20 will divert vital federal resources from higher-priority targets and result in the harassment and detention of foreign visitors, legal immigrants, and U.S. citizens.

Along with constitutional concerns,  DOJ says South Carolina’s SB20 seeks to criminalize unauthorized immigrants by allowing law enforcement officers to arrest and detain people based on a “reasonable suspicion” of being undocumented.

“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 U.S. 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.”

The American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of civil rights organizations filed a similar lawsuit against South Carolina in early October.

“This law must be blocked, as it tramples our American values, interferes with federal laws and risks turning South Carolina into a police state,” said Andre Segura, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.

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