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      Judge OKs immigration status checks in SC

      A federal judge has upheld a South Carolina law allowing police to check people's immigration status.

      COLUMBIA (WACH/AP) -- A federal judge has upheld a South Carolina law allowing police to check people's immigration status.

      But U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said in a ruling Thursday that he would continue a prohibition keeping other parts of the state's tough immigration law from becoming effective.

      Gergel ruled in December that South Carolina's law must be put on hold while the U.S. Supreme Court considered a challenge to similar legislation in Arizona.

      In June The Supreme Court determined that three of the four provisions of Arizona's law are unconstitutional. However, the court upheld the measure considered to be the most controversial aspect of the law, which allows local law enforcement to attempt to verify the immigration status of a person who has been stopped or detained for violating other laws, including traffic violations.

      Gergel said because of the Supreme Court's decison he would reconsider his ruling.

      Attorney General Alan Wilson called Gergel's ruling "...a significant victory for South Carolina's law enforcement community." Adding that the decison means "...police officers and sheriff's deputies now have an important tool to assist them in doing their job and for protecting South Carolinians."

      Critics say the measure can lead to racial profiling based on how someone looks or sounds. They also argue that if immigration enforcement is left up to individual states it could potentially cause inconsistent enforcement across the country.

      "It doesn't work when the entire system is not synchronized," Roberto Belen of the South Carolina Hispanic Leadership Council said in June. "Immigration is a problem. But, let's fix it from the top. Let's fix it for all 50 states and their territories and not make this a state-by-state issue."

      While South Carolina leaders, including the governor, called Monday's ruling "good news" for South Carolina law enforcement, some in that community have argued in the past that policing immigration on the local and state level could put a burden on some departments and jails if they are left to do a job some argue is up to the federal government.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report.)