A U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down key parts of an Arizona immigration law also means that similar Indiana provisions are not enforceable, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana said Monday.
"The Supreme Court basically said that, as we have argued in our case, immigration is exclusively the province of the federal government and states cannot interfere or enter that arena," said Ken Falk, the attorney who filed one of two challenges to the Indiana law, which the General Assembly passed last year.
The nation's high court ruled against provisions of the Arizona law that permitted state and local police to arrest individuals without a warrant if the officers believed them to be illegal immigrants.
Indiana's law had gone even further, Falk said. It said police could arrest an illegal immigrant because of felonies the individual had committed in the past – or if the federal government had issued a detainer or notice of action, even if federal officials had allowed the person to remain in the country.
Falk said that Indiana provision will not stand under the Supreme Court's decision in the Arizona case.
"It seems to me that if the Arizona law is preempted, obviously the Indiana law is preempted," Falk said.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement Monday that his office is reviewing the U.S. Supreme Court decision and said it will provide "valuable guidance to Indiana and other states in the proper role we serve in cooperation with the federal government in enforcing immigration laws."
"The failure of Congress to reform our immigration statutes has put states in the difficult position of seeking this guidance from the judicial branch," Zoeller said. "My office will take the time necessary to review the court's decision today in more detail and make decisions regarding our two cases currently pending in which Indiana is a party. After thorough review, we plan to advise Indiana's legislature of any necessary changes to our current statutes."
State Sen. Mike Delph, a Carmel Republican who authored the Indiana law, was not immediately available to comment.
A U.S. District judge last year issued an injunction in the ACLU-filed case that prevented several provisions of Indiana's law from taking effect. The state did not appeal the decision. The judge is currently reviewing the larger arguments in the case.
However, the ACLU did not challenge all parts of the law, including provisions that punish businesses that hire illegal immigrants by revoking some of their state tax credits.
In another case - Union Beneficia Mexicana v. State of Indiana – a district judge postponed any rulings until after the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Arizona case.
Lesley Weidenbener is managing editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.
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