July 26, 2012

A group of civil liberties organizations in South Carolina has asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to terminate all immigration enforcement cooperation programs that involve state and local police departments, including Secure Communities and four “287(g)” agreements in South Carolina which delegate immigration agent authority to state and local police. These programs partnering state and local police with federal immigration authorities invite racial profiling and discourage victims and witnesses of crime from calling the police for fear of immigration consequences.

In a letter sent July 25, 2012, the ACLU of South Carolina, South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, Carolina Lutheran Outreach Centers, the Council of Mexicans in the Carolinas, the Hispanic Leadership Council, the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, the Lowcountry Immigration Coalition, the NAACP of South Carolina, the SC Hispanic/Latino Health Coalition, SC Immigration Coalition, and the SC Progressive Network urged Secretary Napolitano to take action to avert a human rights crisis facing the immigrant community in the state.

The following can be attributed to Victoria Middleton, Executive Director of the ACLU of South Carolina: “Under these racial profiling laws, citizens and non-citizens alike in South Carolina have reason to fear that they will be harassed and targeted because of how they look or speak, subjected to pre-textual arrest and prolonged detention, and separated from their families. We urge the federal government to act to prevent a civil rights crisis in our state.”

South Carolina’s SB 20 was blocked by the district judge in December and is now before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Litigation in the case is continuing, and vigilance is needed to ensure police and other state agencies do not improperly implement the law while it remains blocked.