By Samm Quinn
After more than four hours of testimony, the State Senate
Pensions and Labor Committee voted 8-1 to pass Senate Bill 590, an
Arizona-style immigration law that critics have said legitimizes racial
Authored by Sen. Mike Delph (R-Carmel), the bill would "put
teeth into existing law, to say the citizens of Indiana welcome legal
immigration, but adamantly reject illegal immigration," Delph said.
The bill would allow law enforcement officers to ask for
proof of citizenship or legal immigration status from people stopped for
violating any type of law, if the officer has any reasonable suspicion that the
person is here illegally.
Delph said that a person's inability to speak English will
be a key factor for officers of the law to find reasonable suspicion.
"The inability to speak the English language, I believe,
will be a key component or a key factor for law enforcement to establish
reasonable suspicion," Delph told the committee.
With probable cause, law enforcement would be able to arrest
those they believe are illegal immigrants.
The bill also requires prisons to check the legal status of
Angela Adams, an immigration law attorney at Lewis and
Kappes, P.C., in Indianapolis, opposed the bill.
She said she wants legislators to find out how much the bill
will cost Indiana before making it law. She said there will be increased jail
costs, increased law enforcement costs, increased foreclosures, decreased
tourism and decreased convention revenue, among other costs.
"There are more constructive, less extreme ways to send a
message to the federal government," she said.
Former U.S. Rep. John Hostettler (R-Ind.) testified before
the Senate committee Wednesday, saying he supported a more restrictive Indiana
immigration law, and that the federal government can grant citizenship, but not
regulate applicants for citizenship.
"The impact of aliens on our society is clearly the province
of the state government and not the federal government," he said.
The bill is being reassigned to Senate Appropriations
Committee and will need to pass there before moving to the floor of the state
The above is one of an ongoing series of daily reports from the Indiana Statehouse by students at the Franklin College Pulliam School of Journalism.