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Judge Blocks Key Parts of South Carolina Immigration Law

  • Republican Sens. Steve Gooch, Bill Hamrick, John Albers and Judson Hill, supporters of South Carolina's immigration law. EFE/FILEEFE

South Carolina is the latest state to have parts of its immigration law blocked from taking effect.

A federal judge on Thursday blocked several provisions of South Carolina's tough new immigration law from taking effect New Year's Day.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel granted the federal government's request for an injunction.

The ruling applies to portions that require law officers to check the status of anyone they stop for something else and suspect is in the country illegally. Gergel also halted the implementation of sections pertaining to the transportation of undocumented immigrants and immigrant registration cards.

Gergel has denied the state's request that he suspend all court hearings on the case until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a challenge to Arizona's similar law. South Carolina prosecutors have said the nation's high court will likely rule in six months or less.

South Carolina is the latest of several states with controversial immigration laws to have parts of their measures blocked from going into effect. 

Citing concerns for their citizens, in recent weeks sixteen nations from Latin America and the Caribbean had sought to join in the U.S. Justice Department's lawsuit against South Carolina's law.

They included Mexico, Honduras, Brazil, Ecuador, and Chile.

Opponents say the measure would encourage racial profiling. Supporters of the law say the failure of the federal government to control illegal immigration has left states to shoulder the burden and to take matters into their own hands.

Justice Department lawyers who have challenged several states' immigration laws argue that immigration policy is solely the domain of the U.S. government.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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