Immigration law hearing is today
A hearing is set for today in U.S. District Court in Charleston regarding plans to implement South Carolina's new immigration law.
The matter will be aired at 10 a.m. in federal Judge Richard Gergel's courtroom.
Opponents of the new law have filed suit, asking that the court overturn the law, and also asking for an immediate injunction to keep it from going into effect Jan. 1 as planned. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson has filed suit asking that the legal challenges be put aside until the U.S. Supreme Court can rule on a similar law passed in Arizona, possibly late next year.
A Supreme Court ruling on the Arizona law will likely resolve most or all the issues being raised with the South Carolina case, Wilson has said.
The new law will require law enforcement officers to check immigration status during a traffic stop or an arrest if they suspect the person is in the country illegally.
The American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of civil rights organizations, labor groups and individuals filed suits challenging the law in October.
The federal government, via the U.S. Justice Department, also is suing the state, maintaining the law's provisions are unconstitutional and interfere with the nation's powers to set and enforce immigration policy.
Locally, challengers of the law include the Lowcountry Immigration Coalition; Charleston-based Mujeres de Triunfo; Nuevos Caminos, which serves the tri-county area; and Service Employees International Union.
Victoria Middleton, executive director of the ACLU's state chapter, maintains the law is unconstitutional, interferes with federal law and will lead to racial profiling.
"It's very important that the law not go into effect. It could do serious harm to the residents of our community," Middleton said.
Middleton said opponents of the law plan to rally at 9 a.m. today at Washington Square Park, beside City Hall, at Broad and Meeting streets.