Immigration Policy softened – Police Can’t Prolong Traffic Stop for Civil Immigration Violation
It looks like South Carolina’s immigration policy of extending traffic stops based solely to check the immigration status of an individual will no longer be enforced. The state’s law is known as SB 20. The issue came to a head when State officials agreed to a settlement with groups that filed a lawsuit.
The state accepted an opinion by South Carolina Solicitor General Robert D. Cook that found that state and local police could not extend regular traffic stops so officers could determine the immigration status of suspects. The state’s law, known as S.B. 20, allows officers to check the immigration status of people if a “reasonable suspicion” exists that they’re in the country illegally. The opinion stated, “As a general rule it is not a crime for a removable alien to remain present in the United States.” A law enforcement officer may arrest a suspect only if he has “probable cause” to believe that the suspect is involved in criminal activity. Civil immigration violations do not constitute a crime therefore law enforcement lack the requisite probable cause to believe that an individual is engaged in illegal activity.
In the USA Today newspaper a spokesman for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said the settlement doesn’t change the fact that states are being forced to grapple with the issue because the federal government has failed to fix the country’s broken immigration system.
“Illegal immigration is still a serious issue in this state and this settlement doesn’t change that or Governor Haley’s position on the matter,” said Haley spokesman Doug Mayer said. “The fact is, the federal government has completely failed to address this problem and until they do, South Carolina will continue doing what is necessary to uphold the laws of our state.”
The last statement is telling, the problem with the state law was that it is unconstitutional. Instead of political pandering perhaps the state should go back to the legislature and derive laws that law enforcement can enforce instead of using them to enact their own political agenda.