The Indiana Senate [official website] on Tuesday approved a bill [SB 590 text; bill materials] by a vote of 31-18, proposing a strict illegal immigration [JURIST news archive] policy comparable to the controversial Arizona law [JURIST news archive]. The bill would require individuals suspected of being illegal to provide proof of their legal status and calls for all public meetings, websites and documents to be in English only. Illegal immigrants would also be ineligible for in-state tuition rates, financial aid, grants or scholarships at Indiana state colleges and universities. Following the vote, Senator Mike Delph (R) [official website], author of the legislation, said [press release]:
Today's vote was a key step in the legislative process. I will continue to work with my fellow lawmakers to send a clear message that Indiana will no longer be a sanctuary for people who are in our state and country illegally because of our federal government's failure to act on illegal immigration. It's time that we put an end to press one for English and two for Spanish in our state. We also must remove the handcuffs from our law enforcement by providing them with the tools and training necessary to identify individuals in our country illegally and then transfer them to federal custody.Various Indiana employers and business groups oppose the legislation [Reuters report], including the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce [official website], which says it will have a chilling effect on business. The legislation would strip businesses of tax deductions for each illegal employee and require the use of the E-Verify System to check the eligibility status of employees. The bill now moves to the Indiana House of Representatives.
Earlier this week, the Utah House of Representatives [official website] also passed [JURIST report] an Arizona-style immigration law. Unlike its Arizona predecessor, the Utah immigration bill does not provide an avenue for private citizens to sue local police who do not enforce the law. The issue of illegal immigration [JURIST news archive] has been the subject of legislation and lawsuits across the country, and several states have enacted or proposed legislation [JURIST reports] similar to the controversial Arizona immigration law. The Arizona law, which has been widely criticized as unconstitutional for allegedly legalizing racial profiling, has sparked a nationwide debate on immigration policy, prompting calls for immigration reform [JURIST report] from President Barack Obama [official profile]. In October, a judge for the US District Court in the District of Arizona [official website] denied [order, PDF] motions to dismiss a class action lawsuit [JURIST report] challenging the constitutionality of the Arizona law. Two other lawsuits [JURIST report] challenging the law were filed last year and are still pending.