COLUMBIA — South Carolina will not back off a potential challenge by President Barack Obama over the state’s anti-illegal immigration law, a top enforcement official said today.
Catherine Templeton, who runs the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, told The Post and Courier that she’s not worried about a potential lawsuit over South Carolina’s latest efforts to block illegal immigrants from living and working in the state.
Templeton’s agency enforces a law that requires employers to check potential workers’ immigration status using the federal E-Verify system. Gov. Nikki Haley also signed into law this year a requirement that authorizes state and local law enforcement to report illegal immigrants to federal authorities.
“It’s a sad day when the same federal government that won’t do its job securing the border and enforcing America’s immigration laws sues a state for implementing and enforcing ours," said Rob Godfrey, Gov. Haley's spokesman.
The Washington Post reported Thursday afternoon that the Obama administration may look to sue South Carolina, Georgia and Indiana in addition to Arizona, Alabama and possibly Utah over tough anti-immigration laws.
Templeton said South Carolina’s law is bullet proof.
“I hand-held that immigration law through the General Assembly with one and only one direction, which is to make sure this is constitutional,” she said. “I am 100 percent confident that any challenge from the Obama administration or anyone else would fail.
“They could sue us all day long and waste everyone’s resources.”
Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, said he is prepared to defend South Carolina's anti-illegal immigration law.
"I absolutely think this law is constitutional and absolutely think South Carolina would win," Wilson said.
What's more, Wilson said he does not understand why the federal government would be opposed to South Carolina working on its behalf to protect America from illegal immigration.
"This is not in contrast to the federal law," he said, holding a copy of the law in his hand. "This is in support of the law. It absolutely puzzles me that the federal government doesn’t want help."
Check back with postandcourier.com for updates and read Friday’s editions of The Post and Courier for more on this story.