South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed a new immigration enforcement bill on
June, 27, 2011 – Senate Bill (SB) 20 – designed to perpetuate unconstitutional
racial profiling by law enforcement. The Asian American Legal Defense and
Education Fund (AALDEF) has joined at least 15 other civil rights organizations
in signing an amicus brief to prevent SB 20 from taking effect.
SB 20 requires every South Carolina police officer to check the immigration
status of any stopped or detained persons about whose immigration status the
officer has “reasonable suspicion.” It is clear that the predominant – if not
sole — factors that will give rise to an officer’s “reasonable suspicion” that a
person is an undocumented immigrant are skin color, language, and/or apparent
national or ethnic origin.
Therefore, this law in effect requires that South Carolina police officers
discriminate against people on the unconstitutional bases of race and national
or ethnic origin. It will also force only immigrants and racial and ethnic
minorities to carry around identification papers at all times, including proof
of their U.S. citizenship or legal immigration status, to avoid being
investigated and even detained.
The law has been dubbed a “copycat” of Arizona’s 2010 immigration enforcement
bill, which was criticized by President Obama. On Oct. 12, civil rights
organizations filed the Lowcountry Immigration Coalition lawsuit against the
South Carolina version, and the U.S. Department of Justice followed with its own
challenge on Oct. 31.
On Nov. 11, AALDEF signed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in
Lowcountry Immigration Coalition v. Haley. We firmly believe that that this law
is not only unconstitutional for targeting large numbers of people based on
their race or ethnicity who are not undocumented workers, but it will also put
Asian Americans and other people of color in South Carolina at risk. They will
be less likely to seek assistance from law enforcement and thus more likely to
be victims of crime. Moreover, any law that so erodes the trust and
communication between one group of people and law enforcement will result
inmaking South Carolina more dangerous for every one of its residents.
Read the amicus brief here:
Brief in Support of Plaintiff’s Motion of Preliminary Injunction in _Lowcountry Immigration Coalition v. Haley (November 11, 2011)
For further information, please contact:
212.966.5932 ex. 217
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