Senate passes illegal immigration bill in late night session

Columbia, SC – March, 10, 2011 – After midnight last night, the Senate passed S. 20, the illegal immigration bill sponsored by Sen. Larry Grooms and co-sponsored by a number of colleagues, including Sen. Ronnie Cromer who is the author of another immigration bill, S. 111. The first part of Grooms’ bill states that if a law enforcement officer has a reasonable suspicion that a person stopped, detained or in custody is an illegal immigrant, that officer or his agency must verify the person’s residency status. The second part makes it illegal to ask for work or attempt to ask for work.

“Illegal immigration is a serious problem for our state,” Grooms said. “People who break the law to come here must be held accountable. We can’t allow them to continue to disregard our laws, weaken our culture, and threaten our liberty.”

Co-sponsored by 20 other senators, the bill was reported favorably out of committee on Feb. 9, but was blocked by Democrats for two weeks. Getting the legislation to the floor and a vote was a priority for Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell and Sens. Cromer and Larry Martin.

“We need to protect the people of our state and not encourage illegals to come to South Carolina,” McConnell said. “We made a good effort three years ago, but we still need to go a little further.”

Grooms credits a 2008 bill on illegal immigration for a lot of the 20 percent drop in illegal immigrants in South Carolina between 2007 and 2010. That bill required employers to confirm an employee’s residency status through the federal E-Verify program. After receiving third reading, S. 20 will head to the House.

“The incentive for illegal immigrants to come to South Carolina needs to be eliminated,” Cromer said. “This bill does that.”