Governor Sanford Signs Immigration Reform Bill
GOVERNOR THANKS HOUSE, SENATE FOR ONE OF NATION'S STRONGEST IMMIGRATION LAWS
Governor Mark Sanford today signed H.4400, giving South Carolina some of the toughest laws in the country in cracking down on illegal immigration.
The primary feature of the bill is the implementation of the e-verify system, which requires employers to verify the legal status of employees through the Department of Homeland Security or with a South Carolina drivers license. The bill also contains enforceable penalties - including fines and loss of business licenses - for failing to get that verification or for knowingly hiring an illegal immigrant.
"Through all of the back and forth on this bill, I'd give credit to the House and Senate for coming to the table with this administration to put forth a bill with meaningful verification and strong enforcement," Gov. Sanford said. "We've said from day one that while we're a nation of immigrants, we're also a nation of laws - and that South Carolina shouldn't be in the business of sanctioning illegal activity with a wink and a nod. To that end, we'd give particular credit to Senators Campsen, Martin, McConnell and Ritchie on the Senate side, and to Speaker Harrell and Chairman Harrison on the House side for their hard work on this bill."
Highlights of the bill include:
-Authorizes SLED to enter into agreements with U.S. Depts. of Justice and Homeland Security that allow state and local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration laws. It also establishes a hotline, website, and database for reporting and tracking alleged violations of immigration laws. In addition, it requires jails to verify legal status of inmates.
-Requires state and local agencies to verify lawful status of anyone over the age of 18 who applies for public benefits, with some exceptions for emergency-related situations.
-Allows local governments to pass stricter immigration laws, but prevents local governments from prohibiting law enforcement from enforcing state or federal immigration laws.