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Judge Blocks Most of South Carolina's Immigration Enforcement Law

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments next year about the constitutionality of Arizona's immigration enforcement law, proponents of a similar statute set to take effect in South Carolina next month were dealt a blow by a federal judge Thursday.

Judge Richard M. Gergel of Federal District Court in Charleston struck down various provisions of the state's immigration enforcement law, including the section that makes it mandatory for cops to question a suspect's immigration status during the course of a normal arrest.

Gergel also put the brakes on a part of the law making it illegal to harbor or transport an undocumented alien.

Praising the judge's move, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Andre Segura said, "This is one more decision in favor of blocking these laws.  It further highlights that the weight of authority is that these laws are unconstitutional."

Other judges have also blocked virtually the same provisions in Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, and Georgia.  The federal government has argued that it has jurisdiction over immigration laws, trumping state mandates.

The high court's ruling next year on Arizona's law will likely affect the other states with similar rules to stop the flow of illegal immigrants.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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