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Federal judge blocks parts of South Carolina anti-immigration law

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 2:19 PM EST, Thu December 22, 2011
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed the state's anti-illegal immigration law on June 27.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley signed the state's anti-illegal immigration law on June 27.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Judge blocks parts of South Carolina's immigration law
  • Three sections will not go into effect
  • South Carolina attorney general notes much of the law will go into effect

(CNN) -- A federal judge in Charleston, South Carolina blocked Thursday parts of the state's anti-illegal immigration law approved by the legislature last summer.

District Judge Richard Mark Gergel blocked three parts of the law, known both as SB20 and Act 69.

The first section blocked makes it a felony to transport or conceal a person "with intent to further that person's unlawful entry into the United States" or to help that person avoid apprehension.

A second section makes it unlawful for an adult to "fail to carry" an alien registration card or receipt.

And the final section blocked would have allowed local law enforcement with "reasonable suspicion" to detain any person the officers believe is in the United States illegally.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson focused on the parts of the law that Gergel let stand.

"The United States Supreme Court will ultimately decide this matter in the coming year. Until then, it appears that many important aspects of the South Carolina law will go into effect on 1-1-2012," said Wilson.

But the American Civil Liberties Union, which had challenged the law, praised the judge's decision.

"We are very pleased that the judge decided to block the most problematic previsions of the law" said Andre Segura, an ACLU attorney who argued against the bill adding "this is yet another setback for this anti immigration legislation that we've seen in other states and we've now seen the majority of courts that have weighed in these issues have decided that these laws are unconstitutional and should be blocked while there is a full hearing in the matter."

SB20 was approved by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Nikki Haley on June 27.

It includes new requirements for the verification of legal status of new workers. In addition it has the requirement that the legal status of prisoners be checked and mandates the transfer of illegal immigrants to federal authorities after they complete their sentences.

Rob Godfrey, Haley's spokesman said, "If the feds were doing their job, we wouldn't have had to address illegal immigration reform at the state level. But, until they do, we're going to keep fighting in South Carolina to be able to enforce our laws. Governor Haley is hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will soon do what Congress and the executive branch have failed to do, which is allow the states to pick up the slack where Washington has failed."

CNN's Gustavo Valdes and Bill Mears contributed to this report

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