Police Chief: 'Immigration law will hinder crime investigations'

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - North Charleston's police chief said Tuesday that South Carolina's new immigration law will hinder criminal investigations in the Hispanic community.

The law allows officers to ask about someone's immigration status after an arrest or traffic stop, but they can't hold anyone solely on the suspicion that they're an illegal immigrant.

Zumalt said Hispanics who have trusted the police will now fear them.

"They going to fear that we're here to deport them," Zumalt said. "They're going to hide in the shadows. They're not going to talk to us. It's going to have a negative effect on our ability to communicate with our community to solve crimes."

Zumalt also said it should not be a local police department's responsibility to enforce federal immigration laws, but the chief also made it clear he believes no one should be in this country illegally.

Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon on the other hand is hailing the new immigration law.

Cannon points out the Charleston County Detention Center has turned over more than 900 illegal immigrants to Immigration Customs Enforcement since his office began a screening program last year.

"I don't think it's a good idea to be telling police officers when you're interacting with somebody out there that you should ignore the real possibility, probability that they're in this country illegally," Cannon said. "That's one of the most fundamental laws a country could have."

The American Civil Liberties Union is threatening to sue over the new law. The ACLU says the law will promote racial profiling by police.

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