The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has granted South Carolina immigration auditors permission to view documents generated by a federal electronic immigration database.
The homeland security department previously had said those documents were protected by federal privacy laws and was waiting on a U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding other states' uses of the E-verify program. That stance prompted Gov. Nikki Haley to hold a press conference to accuse the federal government of interfering with the state's ability to enforce its immigration laws.
As a result of the standoff between the state and the homeland security department, the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, which oversees audits of businesses' employee records, suspended its auditing program.
On Friday, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sent Haley a letter saying that S.C. auditors have permission to look at the documents. Those documents would include an employee's last name, hire date, verification date and the result of that verification check.
However, the state's audit of businesses' employment records is on hold until at least January because of a new immigration bill that changes requirements for checking workers' legal status, said Catherine Templeton, LLR's director. The bill won legislative approval on Tuesday and Haley has said she will sign it into law. The new bill, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, will require all businesses to use E-verify.