Haley signs SC immigration reform into law, opponents speak out

Haley at bill signing with protestors on hand. / Emily Pace

COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) " Governor Nikki Haley signed the illegal immigration reform bill S 20 into law during a bill signing ceremony Monday.

The controversial bill requires police in South Carolina to check suspects' legal status and mandates that all businesses check their hires through a federal online system.

The bill expands on an anti-illegal-immigration law passed in 2008 that was considered among the nation's toughest.

The bill requires officers to call federal immigration officials if they suspect someone is in the country illegally. The question must follow an arrest or traffic stop for something else. The measure bars officers from holding someone on that suspicion.

Supporters say the move helps secure our borders.

"As the proud daughter of immigrants, who taught us everyday how blessed we are to live here, I want to say that South Carolina welcomes people, and we love the fact that this state is made up of many different types of people," Haley said at the bill signing. "But we also appreciate that those people, like my parents, put in their time and came here the right way - they came here legally. What we are saying is that this state can no longer afford those who don't come here the right way, and we are now going to do something about it."

Opponents say it will encourage racial profiling and immigration reform is needed at the federal level as opposed to the state.

Related Stories... SC immigration bill set to become law Illegal immigration bill heads to governor McCain under fire for blaming blazes on immigrants

The American Civil Liberties Union announced Monday afternoon they will challenge the law.

South Carolina ACLU Director Victoria Middleton says her group and other organizations will join to challenge the new law. Middleton says the challenge will claim the law will increase racial profiling and subject anyone who looks or sounds foreign to discrimination.

Middleton said the litigation will be filed before the law takes effect in January.

It is unfortunate that South Carolina lawmakers have pulled us backward onto a path that erodes the civil liberties of everyone in our communities," Middleton said in a news release Monday. "This law undermines the efforts made to overcome our state TMs shameful history of discrimination, inviting racial profiling of anyone who looks or sounds ~foreign TM. We stand committed to making sure that this unconstitutional and discriminatory law never goes into effect.

A group of more than 80 community leaders also called on Haley to veto the bill.

The group sent a letter to the governor Monday morning.

S.B. 20, which would criminalize any adult"both foreign and U.S.-born"who fails to carry state-issued identification or immigrant registration documents, would be detrimental to South Carolina TMs economy and its people. You have stated numerous times that you have an unwavering commitment to the taxpayers TM bottom line, and accordingly, we urge you to veto the bill, the letter states.

Click here to read the entire letter.

What do you think about the law? Leave your thoughts below to weigh in.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)