Indiana?s Immigration Law Under Scrutiny

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller admitted on July 31, 2012, that part of Indiana’s anti-illegal-immigration law is unconstitutional, the Indianapolis Star reported.

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to remove similar provisions in Arizona’s SB 1070 law on June 25, 2012, experts said they believed the implications of the ruling would affect portions of Indiana’s law in the future as well.

Zoeller has conceded that the laws are flawed, after issues with two of the state’s 17 provisions led the American Civil Liberties Union to file a lawsuit against Indiana’s law in 2011. The two provisions under question mandate that local officers are allowed, in certain cases, to arrest illegal immigrants, and that immigrants are prevented from using foreign-issued ID cards as legal identification.

“The Supreme Court made clear that immigration enforcement is a federal government responsibility,” Zoeller said. “States are frustrated by the unwillingness of the executive branch to enforce current immigration laws and inability of Congress to make reforms.”

However, Zoeller said he thinks that under different economic circumstances, things might be different.

“In tough economic times, you tend to blame people who don’t look like you or talk like you,” Zoeller said. “If we were in better economic times, a lot of the emotion and shrillness around the immigration debate would not be occurring.”

Even after Zoeller admitted that portions of Indiana’s law can no longer be enforced after the ruling on Arizona’s similar law in June, it does not look like lawmakers plan to fix the problem anytime soon. House Republican Speaker Brian Bosma claimed that the General Assembly will not have time during the 2013 session to consider state immigration legislation issues, the Journal and Courier reported.

The case is pending in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Indiana, where no timetable has been set for a decision.