Gov. McMaster scores political win as Senate resurrects, passes sanctuary cities ban

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster scored a victory Thursday when the state Senate resurrected his proposed ban on sanctuary cities and passed it along with the state budget.

The ban would require S.C. cities and counties to prove to the State Law Enforcement Division each year that they are not sanctuary cities, openly disregarding federal immigration laws.

South Carolina currently has no sanctuary cities.

The governor and his supporters — including state Sen. William Timmons, the Greenville Republican who proposed tacking the ban onto the Senate's version of the budget — say the proposal will ensure that remains the case.

Critics say the proposal is an effort to pander to Republican voters — who want their next governor to be tough on immigration — ahead of the GOP primary for governor in June.

"The S.C. Senate just took a major step towards making sure there will NEVER be a sanctuary city in our great state," McMaster tweeted Thursday. "Huge thanks to Sen. William Timmons and the rest of the Senate for sending a loud and clear message to the world that criminals won’t find sanctuary here."

McMaster's proposal appeared dead for the year after it failed to pass the overwhelmingly Republican House before a critical deadline Tuesday. Now, it is on the fast track to passage. Supporters don't expect House budget negotiators to fight the proposal when they meet with Senate members later this spring to reach a compromise on the state budget.

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