Justice Department Seeks To Block South Carolina Immigration Law

The Justice Department, which seems to spend a good deal of its time preventing people from enforcing laws these days, filed suit against South Carolina to prevent it from enforcing a new immigration law.  The law was set to go into effect on January 1.

A spokesman for South Carolina governor Nikki Haley was quoted by the Associated Press as saying, “If the feds were doing their job, we wouldn’t have had to address illegal immigration reform at the state level.  But, until they do, we’re going to keep fighting in South Carolina to be able to enforce our laws.”

That simply will not do, because protection of the border is a duty our federal government says must not be fulfilled – not by them, or anyone else.  It drains a lot of resources Washington would rather invest in more politically profitable endeavors, to perform an unglamorous task that makes certain special interests very unhappy, so they don’t want to do it.  If the states handle the job, it makes Washington look bad, and it degrades the centralized authority statists have spent decades accumulating at the nation’s capital.

As CNN relates, the feds claim South Carolina’s law would “undermine federal law and invade federal authority by imposing punitive sanctions for conduct that falls outside of the state’s police powers and that Congress affirmatively decided should not be subject to such sanctions.  And it will interfere with and undermine the federal government’s control over relations with foreign governments.” 

Attorney General Eric Holder added, “It is understandable that communities remain frustrated with the broken immigration system, but a patchwork of state laws is not the solution and will only create problems.”

So just relax, Gov. Haley, and one of these decades Washington might get around to taking citizenship seriously.  You excitable pro-law-enforcement types need to stop jumping the gun and pretending you’re taking last-ditch measures.  You’ve only been working on getting the federal government to do its job with respect to illegal immigration for three or four decades now.  How fast do you expect them to move?  Who do you think you are, Governor – a top Obama contributor looking for a “green energy” taxpayer subsidy?

What dim horrors lurk within the South Carolina law – described, of course, as “draconian” by Karen Tumlin of the National Immigration Law Center?  The marquee provisions are similar to the Arizona law Eric Holder is also keen to block, requiring cops who stop a suspect for other reasons to check their immigration status, and enforcing penalties against immigrants who fail to carry the proper documentation.  The police are specifically prohibited from detaining people solely on the basis of suspected immigration violations.  Businesses must also verify the immigration status of new hires, and could lose their operating licenses if they fail to do so.

You might have been under the impression that these common-sense measures were already being taken, but the Justice Department would like to disabuse you of that comforting fantasy.  As CNN reports, DOJ argues that “South Carolina, like Arizona and Alabama, places burdens on federal agencies, diverting resources away from high-priority targets such as those suspected of terrorism, drug smuggling and other criminal activity.” 

But don’t worry, they’ve got plenty of resources to monitor the health insurance of every single living American.  Without checking anyone’s immigration status.