SC reps introduce illegal immigration bill similar to AZ's


COLUMBIA, SC (WIS/WCSC) — A handful of South Carolina legislators want an illegal immigration law as tough as Arizona's new rules.

A group of House Republicans introduced a bill Thursday requiring police to check immigration status of people they stop if they have reasonable suspicion to believe the person is in the country illegally.

"We are creating a haven for folks for illegally to come into this country. It's absolutely ridiculous to think that you or me could go into another country and benefit from the taxpayers of that other country just because we want to stay there," said bill co-sponsor Rep. Thad Viers (R-Horry County).

[Read the full text of the bill]

It also allows arrests without warrants if the person commits an offense that makes them eligible to be removed from the country. It also requires a federal check on immigration status before someone can be released.

People with valid driver's licenses or other government-issued ID cards would be presumed to be in the U.S. legally.

The bill also makes it illegal for illegal aliens to apply, ask for or perform work in the state.

It's unlikely the bill will pass. It was introduced on the last day for bills to meet a procedural deadline.

Anger mounted Thursday over the Arizona measure as a police officer sued to challenge it, governors in Texas and Colorado weighed in to oppose such a law in their own states, and activists in Chicago chanted for a boycott outside an Arizona Diamondbacks game.

The lawsuit from 15-year Tucson police veteran Martin Escobar was one of two filed Thursday, less than a week after Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill that makes it a state crime to be in the United States illegally.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the federal government may challenge the law, which requires local and state law enforcement to question people about their immigration status if there's reason to suspect they're in the country illegally.

Critics claim the law is unconstitutional and fear it will lead to racial profiling, while Brewer and other backers say the state law is necessary amid the federal government's failure to secure the border.

At the University of Arizona in Tucson, a campus-wide e-mail from school President Robert Shelton said families of several out-of-state honor students have notified the university that they will enroll their children elsewhere.

South Carolina isn't the only state with attempts to copy Arizona's law. A group of conservative state lawmakers in Oklahoma said they also plan to introduce a bill similar to Arizona's. In Texas, Rep. Debbie Riddle, a Republican, said she will introduce a measure similar to the Arizona law in the January legislative session. And Republicans running for governor in Colorado and Minnesota expressed support for the crackdown.

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