A controversial bill that tasks police officers with determining the immigration status of people they stop is heading to the S.C. House floor, where Republicans have made its passage a priority.
The anti-illegal immigration bill – called racial profiling by Democrats – passed the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, 15-7. It already has passed the Senate.
Supporters – including Columbia activist, John Perna who attended Tuesday’s meeting – say the bill, if signed into law, will help South Carolina detect and deport people who should not be in the country.
“They are not immigrants. They are not undocumented workers. They are illegal immigrants who should not be allowed in the country,” Perna said. “They have broken our laws when they crossed into this country, and it’s unlikely they’ll respect our other laws.”
Democrats unsuccessfully argued immigration is a federal issue that the state should stay out of. They also said the bill unfairly targets Hispanics.
“What we’re passing is making it illegal to drive while Hispanic,” said state Rep. James Smith, D-Richland. “If you happen to sound funny or look funny, then you’re taken off to jail.”
The bill would require law enforcement officers to determine a person’s immigration status if pulled over for a possible traffic violation or another reason. A driver’s license or other U.S. photo ID would meet the requirement.
Police would call state or federal immigration officials to determine the immigration status of those who do not have a valid ID.
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