South Carolina: Bill would prevent county, town laws on immigration

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Jan 19 15:46:06 UTC 2008

State immigration policy may get priority
Bill would prevent county, town laws on immigration
By Zane Wilson - The Sun News

COLUMBIA --Cities and counties could not have immigration laws more
extensive than the state's under a version of a bill approved Thursday
morning by a House subcommittee.

"This makes it clear the state is pre-empting the field," said Rep.
Jim Harrison, R-Columbia, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
that will take up the bill on Tuesday.

Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, who led the subcommittee, said the
provision also forbids so-called sanctuary cities, where local
governments can order their police not to bother checking the
immigration status of anyone.

The action means the business groups got one of the things they wanted
in immigration legislation, which is that local governments not be
allowed to have a patchwork of different laws.

At a hearing on the issue Wednesday, former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark
McBride was among several who asked that local governments be allowed
to have their own immigration laws.

Robert Croom, lobbyist for the S.C. Association of Counties, said he
is not sure what their response will be to the measure.

He said he needed to study the wording before recommending a position
by the association.

The subcommittee agreed to the House version of the bill, introduced
last week, and substituted that for a Senate version of immigration
reform that was passed last year and sent to the House.

Sen. Jim Ritchie, R-Spartanburg, asked Wednesday that the Senate bill
be moved forward, saying the two measures are similar.

House leaders disputed Ritchie's claim.

Greg Foster, spokesman for Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, said
the Senate bill allows illegal immigrants to attend state colleges and
receive scholarships. Nor does the Senate bill outlaw "sanctuary
cities," Foster said.

"The House bill addresses all those things and much more," he said.

The subcommittee also agreed to a bill from Rep. Thad Viers, R-Myrtle
Beach, banning local and state government documents or tests in
foreign languages except where required by federal law.

Exemptions would include uses such as academic language classes,
materials "to promote trade, tourism or commerce outside the state,"
public safety messages and language needed to protect crime victims.

Another Viers measure the panel approved requires local police to
check the immigration status of people who are in jail, and if they
are here illegally, they automatically are categorized as a flight
risk when bail is set.

The committee also passed a resolution by Rep. Leon Stavrinakis,
D-Charleston, aimed at forcing the federal government to be more
active against illegal immigration by seeking reimbursement to states
for money spent on illegal immigrants.

"The state is bearing the burden of the federal government's
dereliction of duty," Stavrinakis said.

The Judiciary Committee will consider the bills at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday
in Room 516 of the Blatt House Office Building.

Also on Thursday, Sen. Dick Elliott, D-North Myrtle Beach, introduced
a bill forbidding social services to illegal immigrants under 14.

Elliott filed the measure three years ago and again last year as a
resolution asking the governor to order agencies in his Cabinet not to
provide services to illegal immigrants.

"To date, nothing has changed, and illegal aliens continue to access
food and services paid for by the taxpayers," Elliott said. "We have
rolled out the red carpet to illegal aliens" by providing social
services, he also said.

The bill was referred to a committee for study.

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