South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced that a special immigration enforcement unit conducted successful criminal investigations against illegal aliens in its first few months of operation. And the state reported that 92 percent of employers are complying with the mandate to use E-Verify for vetting new hires.
During a news conference, Gov. Haley reported that the state immigration enforcement unit secured a number of felony and misdemeanor convictions against illegal aliens since it was established in June. "Washington, D.C., has fought us on our illegal immigration situation for a very long time. But we, right now, have one of the best immigration (enforcement) organizations" Gov. Haley said.
A 2011 South Carolina law established an immigration enforcement unit in the state’s Department of Public Safety that is tasked with investigating violations of immigration law and other criminal activity. The eight-person unit now focuses on cases against people who ICE agents have already identified as being in the country illegally. The cases involve a wide range of issues, including fraudulent documents, gang involvement and weapons possession.
The unit -- the only one of its kind in the country that operates at a statewide level -- mostly handles criminal cases referred by state and federal agents although some investigations have resulted from tips by citizens. All workplace-related immigration enforcement is handled by the state Department of Labor.
In a separate announcement, the S.C. Labor Department reported on compliance with the state’s E-Verify mandate. After checking more than 3,000 businesses over the last ten months, only eight percent of the employers required to use E-Verify were not in compliance. The Department placed 16 businesses on probation but all acted quickly to gain compliance.
Under state law, a business found to be non-compliant is issued a warning and put on probation for a year. Any business which violates the law a second time within three years could have its business license suspended.
Jim Knight, the administrator of the E-Verify compliance program, said that the E-Verify law is helping to ensure that illegal aliens don’t get jobs, and sending a message that illegal aliens won't be able to find work in South Carolina.