Portions of South Carolina's harsh SB 20 immigration law will remain blocked thanks to a ruling handed down Tuesday by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The appellate court upheld a 2011 decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel barring the state from implementing a provision that would make it a crime for immigrants not to carry their documents.

Also blocked was the part of SB 20 that mandates criminal penalties for those who help undocumented immigrants.

South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley signed SB 20 after it was passed by the two GOP-controlled legislative chambers on June 27, 2011.

Since its enactment, SB 20 has been tested in court by the U.S. Justice Department on grounds that it is unconstitutional, as well as by various groups defending immigrant rights and the ACLU.

Gergel issued an injunction against the two provisions cited above, while allowing the rest of the law to stand.

South Carolina appealed his ruling to the 4th Circuit.

Among the parts of SB 20 the state is allowed to enforce is the "show me your papers" rule, which allows law enforcement officers to question people about their immigration status.

Tammy Besherse, an attorney of the South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center, told Efe the state can appeal the ruling by the 4th Circuit.

She said the law continues being problematic, above all the "show me your papers" part. People are thinking more now about immigration reform and when it can be regularized, but meanwhile immigrants who can't show they're in South Carolina legally can be detained and deported. EFE