A federal judge decided to leave in place his earlier injunction blocking some of the most controversial provisions of South Carolina's SB 20 immigration law pending a final appellate ruling.
The decisions means that South Caroline police will not be able to question the immigration status of people they arrest or detain for various infractions.
U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel said that he does not have the jurisdiction to alter his decision of last year because South Carolina appealed his injunction before the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which now will have to make a decision or return to the case to reconsider it.
The federal government and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in 2011 against the state contending that SB 20 is unconstitutional, discriminatory and incites racial profiling.
The state police in January began to hire and train officers who will begin to enforce the part of the law that gives officers special powers to detain people suspected of being undocumented.
"The officers will take into account the way a person looks or their accent in English to question their immigration situation," Roberto Belen, a member of the South Carolina Hispanic Leadership Council, told Efe.
Gergel also ordered the state to deliver a report about the negotiations that have been carried out to date with federal immigration authorities regarding the training of police under Program 287(g), which permits state and local authorities to enforce federal immigration laws.
Other clauses of SB 20 that have been blocked include one that requires people to carry immigration documents at all times and another that makes it a felony to transport or harbor undocumented immigrants.
In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court nullified three of the four most controversial clauses in Arizona's harsh SB 1070 immigration law, but it left intact the language that permits the police to request the papers of anyone they detain for other infractions and about whom they have a "reasonable suspicion" of being undocumented.
The Supreme Court decision is a victory for President Barack Obama's administration, which has questioned the authority of the states to legislate on the matter.
The nullified clauses in the Arizona law include one that criminalizes undocumented immigrants who obtain or request work; another that authorizes the arrest, without a warrant, of people who have committed a crime that could be cause for deportation; and one that demands that immigrants always carry federally issued registration documents.