Nikki Haley Signs Immigration Bill, Opponents Speak Out

7:25 PM, Jun 27, 2011   |    comments
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Nikki Haley signs the new immigration law on June 27, 2011.

Columbia, SC (WLTX, AP) -- Governor Nikki Haley has signed off on legislation to crack down on illegal immigration, but the American Civil Liberties Union announced plans to challenge the bill before that even happened.

Supports and protesters showed up at the signing today to praise and sound off against the new law.

"I've never been humiliated before," said Greg Torrales, remembering a time he says he experienced racial profiling. "The only good part about it was that the officer apologized profusely afterwards," he recalled.

Torrales, born and raised in America, serves as President of the South Carolina Hispanic Leadership Council. He says the state's immigration crack down will result in more profiling and he's not the only one who thinks so. The ACLU announced plans to legally challenge the law for that very reason.

"They cling together in illegal communities and bring with them drugs prostitution, violent crimes gang activity," said Sen. Larry Grooms, a Republican from Berkeley County during the bill signing news conference.

The bill's opponents spoke out after the signing, some saying comments like those made by Senator Grooms make them ashamed of the state's new law and its motivation.

Governor Haley signed the bill into law Monday afternoon saying it's about following the rules, not race.

"This is not a bill that pushes away one group for another group this is a bill that enforces laws," said Haley. She says as the daughter of immigrants, coming into the country illegally is a slap in the face to those who do it the right way.

Dozens of supports snapped pictures at the signing and applauded Haley's efforts saying the bill's needed.

"Too much of our freedoms are being taken away from us today, so this is just one more wonderful thing that Nikki Haley has done for us," said Charlotte Hendrix of Florence. She brought her granddaughter to the signing to meet the governor and see government in action.

The bill requires law enforcement to check a person's status in some circumstance with reasonable suspicion. It allows the state to move illegal immigrants to federal custody and creates an Illegal Immigration Enforcement unit in the Department of Public Safety.

Still opponents say the bill's unfair.

"When people talk immigration issues they talk hispanic, they forget that there are many other cultures, ethnicities that are living here undocumented too," said Torrales.

The bill provides penalties for employers who don't follow the law, and will go into effect January 1 2012. The ACLU says it will file litigation before that time.

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