COLUMBIA, S.C. – Following Arizona’s lead, South Carolina is expected to enact the nation’s toughest immigration laws to date, with New Yorkers and Californians to be officially declared persona non grata.
Not only are residents of the Empire and Golden states prohibited from living in South Carolina, under the bill being considered by South Carolina’s legislature, they would not even be permitted to visit for tourist purposes.
Law enforcement would be directed to arrest individuals that they knew, or suspected, were New Yorkers or Californians and deport anyone who proved to be a resident of those states. Officers could detain individuals for a long list of appearance-based and behavioral reasons, including: “evidence of plastic surgery; reading The New Yorker, Wall Street Journal or New York Times; extolling Thomas Keller or molecular gastronomy; driving a Prius; mentioning ‘my rabbi’; requesting ‘macrobiotic’ or ‘vegan’ items at a restaurant; ordering non-sweetened tea; inquiring about the availability of valet parking; speaking of Bob Jones University or Strom Thurmond with disdain; refusing to call Arnold Schwarzenegger or Rudy Giuliani a RINO; or stating a preference for Adam Lambert over Kris Allen.”
Republican Governor Mark Sanford says that he will sign the bill.
“For centuries New Yorkers and Californians have sneered at us,” said Sanford, “They marvel at our magnolia trees but call us racially intolerant and backward. The only thing that we are intolerant of is elitism, and this bill sends a clear message that we will no longer permit it inside our state lines.”
Critics of the measure say it enshrines Southern bigotry in state law.
“We already fought the Civil War, and we lost,” Milton R. Rutherford, history professor at Columbia College, said bluntly. “It has zero chance of being withstanding a legal challenge if it becomes law.”
The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce issued a statement expressing concern that the state’s industries could be harmed by the loss of revenue resulting from fewer New York and California tourists as well as individuals from other states that oppose the law.
But Jackson Ross Campbell III, creator of the “Blue States Suck” Facebook page, said that any loss would be more than compensated for by tourists from states who support South Carolina’s law.
“It’s marketing magic for our hotels, which will be able to advertise that their guests won’t have to run into people at the continental breakfast buffet asking for soy milk or carrying a Louis Vuitton bag with a small, yappy dog,” Campbell said, adding that he will work to extend the ban to states beyond California and New York.
Poll results were mixed. When South Carolina residents were asked whether they supported prohibiting residents from other states from moving to or visiting their state, only 15 percent said yes in a Zogby Poll with +/-3.1 percentage points of error. However, when it was specified that the residents were from New York and Carolina, that number rose to 47 percent and when it was worded “carpetbaggers from the states where Nancy Pelosi and Bill Clinton live” the number spiked at 71 percent.
The legislation was initially drafted to prevent residents of New York and California from ever visiting South Carolina, but an exemption was made to permit relatives to visit immediate family members whose health or life is in danger and who are unable to travel.
It also gives individuals who are native born South Carolinians but have New York or California residency the chance to repatriate after a waiting period. Anyone reapplying for South Carolina residency will need to show proof, through state income tax forms or utility bills, that they have been a resident of a state besides California or New York for a minimum of three years, in addition to providing their birth certificate.
But native born Californians and New Yorkers are out of luck — unless they can provide proof that an immediate ancestor was a South Carolina resident and declare their fidelity to South Carolina.
Despite the heated debate the proposal has stirred in South Carolina, it appears to have received scant notice in the states that would be affected. When told of the proposal, Berkeley, Calif., resident Ashby Paz shrugged his shoulders. “That’s just one less carbon offset I need to buy — not that I’ve ever been or have any desire to go since I kind of lump South Carolina into the same category as flyover country.” Paz said. “In fact, maybe we could have reciprocity and bar South Carolinians from coming to California.”
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