Sunday, May 29, 2011

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley: Feds 'get in the way' of enforcement

Gov. Nikki Haley accused federal officials Friday of preventing South Carolina from enforcing a 2008 anti-illegal immigration law, saying they are denying the state access to electronic records used to verify a worker's eligibility.

Catherine Templeton, the director of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, said the state has not been able to enforce the law since April 29. As a result, Haley said, the state may lay off its two dozen immigration auditors.

Immigration experts said Friday it was the first they had heard of problems between state immigration auditors and the federal Department of Homeland Security.

The dispute is over access to federal E-Verify documents, which Haley said are crucial to allowing the state to enforce its 2008 law. Haley said the Department of Homeland Security has denied the state access to those documents and is not answering questions why. Haley sent a letter Friday to Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano about the dispute, which she said began in February.

"They continue to get in the way of me governing this state," Haley said of the federal government. "They can't be serious about illegal immigration if they won't allow us to enforce the law."

An official from the Department of Homeland Security said the agency had reached out to the governor's office to discuss the issue on multiple occasions but did not receive a response. He did not provide documentation to show how often the department reached out or what communication channels were used.

Adam Fetcher, a Homeland Security spokesman, said Haley's request was pending while the U.S. Supreme Court considered a case regarding an Arizona E-Verify law. Now that the Supreme Court has upheld that state's right to enforce immigration laws that regulate businesses' hiring practices, the department that manages E-Verify is reviewing the S.C. request, Fetcher said.

The news conference with Haley and Templeton, an appointee of the new Republican governor, caused immigration attorneys to scratch their heads.

South Carolina passed its first immigration laws in 2008 and began phasing in requirements for all businesses to verify the eligibility and legal status of all newly hired workers. Under the law, businesses are allowed to use the federal E-Verify program or accept a driver's license from South Carolina or from one of 26 other states, approved by the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Legislature put the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation in charge of auditing businesses. The agency has more than 20 auditors who inspect businesses; those inspections often are based on complaints from the public.

Frederick Manning, an immigration employment attorney with Fisher and Phillips in Columbia, said he has not heard of any instances in which a business did not show E-Verify documents to state inspectors when asked.

Manning said the state inspectors are effective and had a solid track record in finding illegal immigrants working in South Carolina. "This doesn't make sense to me."

Tammy Besherse, an S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center attorney who follows immigration legislation, said no one from the state Labor, Licensing and Regulation Department has told legislators this year that its agents have not been able to enforce the law because of the federal government. Besherse has attended every hearing this session that has involved immigration. "If she had said we can't enforce the law, they would have tried to amend the bill to make sure she could," Besherse said.

Manning said the majority of employers ask for a driver's license to meet the state's employment eligibility requirements, meaning the federal Homeland Security Department would not be in a position to interfere with the state's enforcement.

When a company uses E-Verify, it signs a memorandum of understanding with Customs and Immigration Services, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security. Those agreements include privacy provisions, intended to protect companies and their workers from fraud, Besherse said.


Immigrants key to Tory victory in Ontario, Canadian immigration minister says

An interesting perspective. I wonder how well-founded it is? The Tories have certainly got the runs on the board Federally. But will that transfer to the Provincial elections? In Australia, Federal and State elections often go in different directions

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney says immigrants allowed the Conservatives to take Ontario away from the Liberals in the federal election.

He says the Ontario Tories can do the same this fall if they stick to their conservative values and keep courting new Canadians.
Speaking at the provincial party's convention today, Kenney boasted that "Tory Toronto is back."

The Conservatives made a major breakthrough in Toronto on May 2, claiming eight Liberal seats in a city that's repeatedly rebuffed Tory advances.

Kenney says media and commentators will try to explain away the Harper government's majority mandate and its historic breakthrough in Ontario.

But he says his party picked up 23 more seats in the province because Conservative beliefs — such as job creation through lower taxes — resonate with Ontario voters.


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