Originally created 04/08/06

Senate wants to stop services for immigrants



COLUMBIA - The state Senate has approved a resolution asking Gov. Mark Sanford to stop illegal immigrants from getting social services.

"Giving people a constant supply of free meals and medicine is no way to discourage the growth of illegal aliens," said Sen. Dick Elliott, the measure's chief sponsor. "If it's illegal for these people to be here, what's legal about giving them goods and services intended for the down-and-out in our society?"

Mr. Elliott, D-North Myrtle Beach, wants Mr. Sanford to order the Department of Social Services to quit providing illegal immigrants free services, including food stamps.

The Senate passed the resolution Thursday by voice vote immediately after he introduced it.

The one-chamber resolution only reflects the Senate's wishes. It carries no legal weight.

Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said the governor has not reviewed the resolution. However, he said, Mr. Sanford has supported the concept before.

"In Congress, Gov. Sanford had a record of opposing providing social services to illegal aliens," Mr. Sawyer said.

Mr. Elliott said the state has limited resources to help its needy residents.

"We believe that, first, our home folks should be provided for," he said.

"We also believe if the aliens did not have access to free services many of us have to pay for, South Carolina would not be as much of a haven for illegal aliens."

Census figures indicate the Hispanic population in South Carolina grew by 273 percent from 1990 to 2003, reaching 131,000 in 2004.

While it is generally accepted that census counts of Hispanics are low, how low is up for debate.

The Pew Hispanic Center estimates the Latino population is between 155,000 and 165,000, but the South Carolina Consortium for Latino Immigration Studies puts the figure at 400,000 to 500,000.