Joining into a Federal lawsuit against South Carolina’s version of Arizona’s ‘Papers Please’ law now are 16 foreign countries.
It’s not the first time that foreign countries have raised what they see as serious concerns about the treatment of their citizens in the US.
Arizona’s law prompted Mexico to issue a travel warning to all citizens visiting, working or studying in the state. Mexican President Felipe Calderón called the law “discriminatory.”
Mexico joined lawsuits against Arizona’s law and it has again with South Carolina’s, as has Honduras, Brazil, Ecuador and Chile.
Like Arizona’s law, it requires law officers who make a traffic stop to call federal immigration officials if they suspect someone is in the country illegally. Which, like Arizona’s law, opponents say, would encourage stops for ‘driving while brown’ — racial profiling. The federal lawsuit says the law “creates a significant risk of harassment of lawfully present aliens and even US citizens.”
The Justice Department lawyers suit is aimed at stopping the law from taking effect in January. They say that immigration policy is solely the domain of the federal government.
The South Carolina law means that all foreigners have to carry their ‘immigration papers’ at all times, raising fears for the impact on foreign tourism. It also makes it a crime for anyone to ‘transport or harbor illegal aliens,’ meaning that South Carolinians will have to ask for someone’s papers if offering them a lift.
Said Assistant Attorney General Tony West in announcing the federal lawsuit:
“Pushing undocumented individuals out of one state and into another is simply not a solution to our immigration challenges.”
Parts of Arizona’s similar law were blocked by a federal judge in July last year and that decision was then upheld by a federal appeals court. Arizona has appealed to the Supreme Court, which is considering whether to take the case.
The Justice Department civil rights division is collecting complaints about enforcement of immigration-related laws and similar measures.
“We’ll continue to review these laws to make sure in none of these states are these laws being implemented in a way that results in impermissible discrimination,” said attorney Matthew Colangelo of the civil rights division.
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