Lawsuit Aims to Block South Carolina Immigration Law

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Service Employees International Union and other immigration rights groups recently filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against SB 20, South Carolina’s strict immigration law set to take effect in January.

Similar to laws in Arizona, Alabama, Indiana and other states, the South Carolina law empowers police officers to arrest anyone who cannot provide documentary proof of legal residency or citizenship. The suit states, “Individuals perceived as ‘foreign’ by state or local law enforcement agents will be in constant jeopardy of harassment and unlawfully prolonged detention and arrest.”

In addition, the suit contends that because the law prohibits the transportation or safe harbor of illegal immigrants, it will impose “criminal penalties and incarceration for humanitarian daily activities,” such as giving a car ride to an undocumented resident.

The suit describes how the law is expected to impact a number of anonymous “Doe” plaintiffs, including a Guatemalan refugee who has lived in the United States for 21 years and has obtained an Employment Authorization Document. According to the lawsuit, this man sometimes is without an up-to-date EAD during the annual renewal process, which would expose him to arrest under SB 20.

The federal government is considering a similar suit to block the law, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.