U.S. News

South Carolina governor signs immigration bill into law

CHARLESTON, South Carolina (Reuters) - South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley on Monday signed into law a bill that requires police to check the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest for another reason and suspect may be in the country illegally.

The immigration crackdown, which goes into effect January 1, follows similar action by lawmakers in Georgia and Alabama.

Under the new law, employers in South Carolina will be required to use the federal E-Verify system to check the citizenship status of employees and job applicants. Penalties for knowingly employing illegal immigrants will include suspension and revocation of a business license by the state.

The law also creates a $1.3 million Illegal Immigration Enforcement Unit within the state public safety department to serve as a liaison between local police and federal immigration officials. The unit will have 12 full-time officers, as well as its own unique uniforms and vehicle markings.

The unit will be formed after July 1 when the new state budget takes effect. Haley has not yet signed the budget but is not expected to veto the funds.

Reporting by Harriet McLeod; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jerry Norton