U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said today he likely will decide this week how he will change his 2011 injunction of South Carolina’s tough new immigration law.
Gergel held a two-hour hearing in Charleston today to give both the state of South Carolina and those challenging a law a chance to argue how a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding an Arizona immigration law affects their case.
The Arizona law served as a model for South Carolina’s.
Late last year, Gergel ruled that parts of South Carolina’s law could not take effect as scheduled Jan. 1, including the requirement that police check the immigration status of those they pull over if officers suspect they are in the country illegally.
Since then the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against parts of an Arizona immigration law that was used as a model for South Carolina’s, but the nation’s top court upheld Arizona’s requirement for police to make such checks.
Gergel inidcated this summer he would revisit that part of his injunction, and he questioned both sides this morning how long police officers or deputies should be able to detain someone solely to check their immigration status.
Gergel indicated that a delay of only a few minutes might be lawful, but said officers do not have the legal authority to hold someone for 90 minutes solely to check their immigration status. He noted it takes an average of 81 minutes to run an immigration check.
South Carolina’s immigration law faced a challenge from the U.S. Justice Department and the American Civil Liberties Union.
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