South Carolina Looks for a Government Handout to Fund AZ Immigration Reform
Leave it to small government conservatives to look towards passing an immigration bill that they can’t afford, which is exactly what Republicans in state of South Carolina are trying to do. South Carolina wants to get tough on immigration but the state can’t afford the bill without federal dollars, small government indeed.
Just weeks after Arizona introduced the controversial immigration law Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, state representative Eric Bedingfield (R-Greenville) introduced a similar bill in South Carolina that requires law enforcement officials to check individuals’ immigration status. Other states that have indicated they might follow suit are Utah, Oklahoma, Colorado, Ohio, Missouri, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and Maryland.
With an eye on political opportunism, Republicans in the state have taken up an Arizona style immigration reform bill for their state. The main sponsor of the bill state Sen. Larry Grooms (R) said, “It would give local law enforcement the ability to arrest someone that they know is here illegally. Right now, they’re handcuffed. They can’t do that unless they have passed some sort of federal government certification.”
Now before you think that this is just the standard right wing red state pandering consider that the state just passed a tough immigration reform law, which they are still phasing in, that they can’t afford to pay for. As a recent piece in the Charleston, SC Post and Courier on the 2008 reform pointed out,
“But here’s the rub: Who’s to pay for training local law enforcement officials to function as deputy customs officials as federal law requires? Even more daunting is the stipulation that any local facilities in which the illegal aliens are housed must meet federal requirements. To date, there are only two county jails, one in York and the other in Charleston, that have been so certified. Further, federal money has dried up and local and state budgets are strapped.”
Even federal funds have dried up due to the bad economy, “Even federal funds to qualify local law enforcement officials to access federal data banks and handle illegal aliens have dried up. York County’s sheriff got involved in the federal program in 2007. Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon says his department was one of only 11 in the country to get federal training funds last year. Some six Charleston County detention officers are now qualified as deputy customs officials.”
Later the question was asked, “So short of a change in federal immigration laws or a funding windfall that would provide more federally compliant prisons in this state or train more deputy customs officials, is there more South Carolina lawmakers can do?”
Things heated up in a debate Thursday during a South Carolina Senate hearing on the new proposed bill when State police argued that they have enough on their plates and do not have the money or the resources to comply with the mandate of South Carolina’s existing immigration law. State Law Enforcement Division Chief Reggie Lloyd argued, “If everybody wants us to go chase illegal immigrants, we’re glad to do that. If you tell us to take a hill, we will do that. But we don’t have the resources and the ability to do what everybody’s asked us to do today.”
But that was nothing compared to what happened after the Senate hearing:
The Canadian Business Market reported on the scene: “Two Hispanic women confronted Sen. Larry Grooms after the meeting, asking him if he could tell which one was in the country illegally. He responded by doubting either was, sparking a back-and-forth argument before a TV camera.
“My job is to protect the citizens of this state … not to provide economic liberties for people in other countries,” Grooms, R-Bonneau, shouted back…The debate got more heated after Roan Garcia-Quintana, a Cuban American who advocates anti-illegal immigration bills, said the women should go back where they came from if they don’t like it here. Neither of the women is an illegal immigrant. One of the protesters, Ilia Rivera, of Greenville, shouted she’s Puerto Rican and an Army veteran. Then she stalked off.
“Someone will stop me. I’m very sure they’re going to,” Rivera said about the bill. “I’m Puerto Rican and look like I’m Latino.””
Instead of acknowledging that they don’t have the resources to enact the current law, Republicans are disingenuously presenting the situation as if the current law is not tough enough. Their current law, which is based on employers documenting workers (like the bi-partisan immigration reform legislation proposed under Bush) was working, but it was being phased in slowly since its passage in 2008 and funds dried up after the Bush crash.
In short, this Red State where Republicans like Sen. Jim DeMint rail against big government and socialism and Republican Governor Sanford made a big show of pretending he didn’t want the stimulus money (even though his constituents begged him to take it) is going to require a federal government hand out in order to be able to enforce their own immigration laws.
South Carolina is a hotbed of hypocrisy.The state’s own Joe Wilson called Barack Obama a liar, but the President isn’t a dead beat hypocrite who is looking for some socialism so he can enact a racist immigration policy all the while touting his “small government” and “no welfare” platform of lies.
h/t Jason Easley
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.