There are some things that should be left to the federal government, the U.S. circuit court of appeals ruled Tuesday.
The court's ruling on Act 69, South Carolina's immigration act, upheld the original injunction against three key parts of the act, first and foremost because they would have interfered with federal laws already on the books.
Though South Carolina was hardly alone in the scramble to pass Arizona-like legislation, each state has to bear the responsibility of the fallout.
As Omar Jadwat, of the ACLU's Immigrant Rights Project, wrote on the group's blog, “Meanwhile, the cities and states that passed these laws are worse off for having gone down this path – not just because they have wasted time and resources defending indefensible laws in court, but also because the laws divide communities and increase discrimination.”
Both parts of that statement should ring true and raise questions for South Carolinians, no matter what side of the political spectrum or what their views on immigration. Because the money and time spent going to trial to defend a law that was pre-empted by federal law could surely have been spent doing on something more productive.
“Immigration law concerns international relations,” Condy said. “It's really been historically viewed that the fed government occupies the whole field.”
Anyone who doubts that need only look at the list of 16 central and South American countries that supported the request to uphold the injunctions.
Still the same
Of course, day to day life for immigrants who entered the country illegally was probably not much different before and after and Tuesday, when the ruling was issued, Condy said.
Yes, folks who are unlawfully present can now move around, live in their homes and go to work and school without their very existence in the state being a criminal act.
The civil nature of their presence is one thing, but the fact that the criminalization of their presence was deemed excessive should not have surprised many people. As the ruling states: “Legislative supporters of the Act said they hoped the bill would encourage persons unlawfully present in South Carolina to find 'a different state to go to.'”
That's perhaps not the most productive plan of action, for anyone involved.
A better life
“Most immigrants, they're trying to save their families,” Condy said. “The ones who cross illegally, it's a desperate action.”
And Condy himself doesn't oppose consequences for those who come here illegally, as long as they are “proportionate and reasonable” he said—two words that did not describe the portions of the Act that won't be going into effect.
“To waste our state's resources and money when we have so many other real problems that we should be addressing…it's a shame,” Condy said, particularly considering that we are, after all, a nation of immigrants.
And Condy says the influx of immigrants in southeastern states like Georgia, Alabama, and North and South Carolina really should help in the long run by increasing the labor pool, which could in turn benefit the economy.
Maybe leaders South Carolina and other states who've seen parts of their immigration efforts could focus on those aspects instead.
Reach Melanie Balog at 937-5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.