South Carolina now has one of the toughest laws against illegal immigration in the country.
Governor Mark Sanford signed the bill into law that cracks down on employers that hire illegal immigrants. It requires businesses to verify that their employees are legal. It also forbids illegal immigrants from attending public colleges in the state.
State Senator Jim Ritchie of Spartanburg hailed the new law as a victory for the people of South Carolina.
"The whole point of this bill is to create a level playing field for everyone," Ritchie said. "The rule of law can now be asserted where the federal government has failed to protect our communities."
York County farmer Arthur Black has followed the progress of the bill for weeks now. He's worried it could hurt South Carolina agriculture.
"It's a little scary to somebody like me in agriculture," Black said. "What are we gonna do? Make a society where we have to find out the heritage of everybody going five generations back? So it's getting a little scary what they're trying to do.”
Black said he's hired illegal immigrants in the past and has helped many of them earn U.S. citizenship. He said their work is critical to many businesses in the state.
"We need that kind of labor," he said.
Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon said he wonders if lawmakers thought of the economic impact of restricting illegal workers, especially when it comes to the food you buy.
"Anything that has an impact on agriculture in South Carolina is going to have ripple effects. I really don't think anybody sat down and did the economics of how each ripple how come back to every consumer," he said.
Black said higher prices for produce would hit everyone if workers can't be found to harvest the state's crops.