A last major piece of South Carolina's anti-illegal immigration law took effect Thursday as all small businesses became subject to fines and potential shutdowns for employing illegal workers.
All businesses in the state must now check their new hires' legal status and fire any existing workers known to be in the country illegally. The law is one of the toughest in the nation and had been applied for a year to companies with more than 100 workers.
"Every employee on the payroll, regardless of their date hired, has to be legal," said Jim Knight, office administrator and spokesman for the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
He said investigators will randomly check all companies, though auditors will focus on businesses that traditionally employ illegal workers such as landscaping and construction firms, hotels, restaurants and chicken processors.
The state Office of Immigrant Worker Compliance has more than doubled its number of investigators, to 23, as 110,000 additional businesses fall under the law.