Washington – The U.S. Justice Department on Monday filed a legal challenge to South Carolina's new law against illegal immigration.
In the lawsuit, the department alleges that several clauses of the law, Act No. 69, "are unconstitutional and interfere with the federal government's authority to set and enforce immigration policy."
"The Constitution and federal law do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country," the Justice Department said in a statement.
Act No. 69 criminalizes undocumented immigrants and, just like Arizona's SB 1070 and Alabama's H.B. 56, allows the police to jail them for new immigration "crimes."
The Justice Department holds that the South Carolina law imposes "significant burdens" on federal agencies and will divert funds from priority projects such as the fight against terrorism, drug smuggling, gangs and apprehending people wanted for other crimes.
In addition, according to the communique, the South Carolina law will result in harassment and arrest both of foreign visitors as well as legal immigrants and U.S. citizens who cannot immediately prove their legal status in the country.
"Today's lawsuit makes clear once again that the Justice Department will not hesitate to challenge a state's immigration law, as we have in Arizona, Alabama and South Carolina, if we find that the law interferes with the federal government's enforcement of immigration," Attorney General Eric Holder said.
"It is understandable that communities remain frustrated with the broken immigration system, but a patchwork of state laws is not the solution and will only create problems," he said.
The Justice Department said that it will soon request a preliminary injunction to halt enforcement of Act No. 69, portions of which will enter into force on Jan. 1.
Federal courts have suspended some of the most controversial clauses of the Arizona and Alabama immigration laws, while pro-immigrant groups are exerting pressure to get Congress to resolve once and for all the "humanitarian crisis" caused by the lack of comprehensive immigration reform.