By MEG KINNARDAssociated Press
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The commander of a special South Carolina law enforcement unit that investigates criminal cases against illegal immigrants says the force has been successful in its first year.
Lt. E.C. Johnson says the statewide unit still faces challenges when it comes to ensuring the public understands exactly what it is and isn't tasked with doing.
Johnson heads up the Department of Public Safety's Immigration Enforcement Unit. Created under South Carolina's new immigration law, the team investigates people who may be in the U.S. illegally and are accused of breaking another state law.
Since July, Public Safety says Johnson's team has investigated more than three-dozen cases. So far, 17 have been closed with an arrest. Some have been referred to federal authorities for deportation.Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.