On Tuesday, the legislature sent S. 20 to Gov. Nikki Haley's desk. If you're not familiar, the bill will require employers to check all new employees through the E-Verify system and require police officers to check the immigration status of people they pull over or arrest if they suspect they may be in the country illegally.
We've said before that we're not convinced it's necessary or a good idea. The state is cutting health programs and public safety budgets. It doesn't follow that it's the time to create a new $1.3 million illegal immigration task force, particularly when the illegal immigrant population in the state is already shrinking, down more than 20 percent since 2007. Please don't mistake my meaning. It's not that we're all gung ho about illegal immigration or unconcerned about its effect on our state's legal residents, but it's hard to say that we needed to dedicate so much time and money to it as we have this year, and now will for the foreseeable future.
Now comes word that businesses will soon find their feet held to the fire. Take note, business owners out there. A few minutes ago, this came over from the governor's office:
Governor Nikki Haley today thanked the Department of Homeland Security for granting South Carolina access to documents that will allow our Labor, License, and Regulation (LLR) Department to enforce our anti-illegal immigration laws. DHS had previously stood in the way of the state enforcing its illegal immigration laws. The decision comes in response to requests made by Gov. Haley and LLR Director Catherine Templeton.
In a letter to the governor, DHS wrote, “[DHS] has decided to authorize South Carolina E-Verify employers and their E-Verify Employer Agents to disclose E-Verify information directly to LLR when requested by LLR.” The full letter is attached.
Gov. Haley said, “My job as governor is to make sure South Carolina is doing everything we can to protect our citizens and enforce our laws, and when the federal government stands in the way of that, we’re going to be loud. Illegal immigration is a serious issue in our state and in our country, and until the federal government does its job and secures our borders, South Carolina is going to step up and do something about it. I appreciate Secretary Napolitano’s decision.”
Last month, Gov. Haley wrote a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano regarding the failure of DHS to grant South Carolina access to documents that confirm employers are using E-Verify.
In other words, the state's Labor Department will soon be able to check whether businesses are actually using E-Verify, as they're now required to. It makes sense that if you require action by individuals you have some method in place to make sure that action is undertaken. But at the same time, it's hard to celebrate any added hurdle that makes creating and filling jobs harder than it already is.