South Carolina House Advances Immigration Bill

South Carolina is the most recent state to propose immigration reform laws that opponents say would unfairly target Hispanics and encourage racial profiling.

On May 17, the state’s House Judiciary Committee voted 15-7 to advance legislation that would require law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of people they expect may be illegal immigrants during routine traffic stops or other arrests Republicans in the South Carolina House of Representatives said the bill is a priority for this legislative session, which ends this month.

The Associated Press reported that Representative Bakari Sellers argued the bill goes against the Republican platform of cutting spending, as the measure would expand law enforcement duties and create a new unit within the Department of Public Safety to enforce immigration laws. However, supporters says providing public education, emergency room care and other services to illegal immigrants will ultimately be more expensive than the cost of the bill.

In April, the political newspaper The State reported that the South Carolina Senate already set aside $1.3 million in its proposed budget to create an Illegal Immigration Enforcement Unit. The department would have 12 employees, along with vehicles and other equipment.