A federal judge has suspended portions of South Carolina's new immigration law set to take effect New Year's Day. U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel held up two portions: one forces immigrants to constantly keep their legal paperwork with them; the second makes anyone who transports or harbors an illegal immigrant a criminal. Anybody who unknowingly rents a room to an illegal immigrant or picks up an illegal immigrant in a taxi would be implicated.
Judge Gergel says South Carolina state and local police would need a "dragnet" to check people out on everyday business, according to the State newspaper. He adds people accused of low-level infractions such as jaywalking would have to be investigated. He says this would "overburden federal immigration enforcement resources and disrupt the federal government's enforcement scheme".
South Carolina lawmakers modeled their legislation after Arizona's strict law against illegal immigrants. Arizona's law is headed to the Supreme Court where the AP notes the Obama Administration will argue that immigration enforcement is a federal, not a state responsibility.
That's the same issue in South Carolina. NPR's Kathy Lohr reported the Justice Department sued, arguing South Carolina usurps federal power by enacting its own immigration policy. But supporters of the law include a frustrated South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who criticized the federal government: "We're not going to be quiet about this. You know, they're not fixing the problem yet not allowing us to fix our problem either. They can't have it both ways."
The ruling comes as the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected appeals from Alabama and Georgia on Thursday to delay lawsuits challenging those states' immigration laws. The states wanted to wait and see how the Supreme Court ruled on the Arizona case before proceeding with theirs, according to AP. But the 11th Circuit turned them down.
The 11th Circuit Court has already suspended parts of Alabama's law, including a portion requiring schools to check the immigration status of their students; the Atlanta Journal Constitution says parts of Georgia's immigration law have also been suspended by a federal judge.