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Senators seek intervention in immigration law


By Matthew Glowicki



Three state senators have submitted a motion to U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker, seeking to intervene in Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s decision not to uphold parts of the state’s immigration law.

State Sens. Mike Delph, R-Carmel,’ Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville; and Brent Steele, R-Bedford authored SB 590, the Indiana immigration law. The three are taking issue with Zoeller’s decision to no longer uphold parts of the law that deal with warrantless arrests.

The senators also believe Zoeller’s refusal to uphold parts of the law invalidate their voting powers as legislators.

The three want to see the warrantless arrest provisions in the law upheld and fought for by the attorney general, the defense for the state of Indiana. If not, they want to step in and defend it themselves.

In light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling concerning the constitutionality of Arizona’s immigration policy, Zoeller announced he would no longer defend those sections and recommended that Barker strike down those aspects of the law.

Bryan Corbin, Zoeller’s public information officer, said the attorney general was indeed defending those parts of the law until the Supreme Court decision.

“When the Supreme Court decides, that’s conclusive,” Corbin said. “That’s final. That’s the end of the line.”

Zoeller said in a press release that he is appreciative of the work of the Indiana General Assembly but that he has been put in hard circumstances regarding the subject of immigration.

“The states are the victims of federal inaction, and I call upon those in Washington, D.C., to fulfill their duties and stop putting states in the difficult position of attempting to enforce immigration when the Supreme Court has said that is a federal government responsibility,” Zoeller said.

While Corbin said he couldn’t comment specifically on the senator’s arguments, as the case is ongoing, he did say Zoeller must act in the interest of the state.

“While we respect the view of the senators, the attorney general only represents the view of the state in legislative matters,” Corbin said.

A June 2012 decision by the nation’s highest court struck down much of Arizona’s Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act. Zoeller said he believes that some SB 590 sections that are similar to Arizona’s law are now rendered unconstitutional by the national ruling.

In the Arizona v. U.S. case, the Supreme Court ruled that the authorization of local law enforcement officers to make warrantless arrests of people for immigration violations is unconstitutional.

The state senators disagree, arguing that provisions in the Indiana law limit the extent of arrests to specific scenarios, all of which require communication and cooperation between local, state and federal levels of government, according to the senator’s written motion to intervene.

Since becoming law in July 2011, SB 590 has riled National Immigration Law Center and American Civil Liberties Union members. Opponents took issue with many aspects of the law, including defining proper immigrant identification and the extent to which local authorities can enforce federal laws.

Corbin said the attorney general has vigorously defended the law on behalf of the state and will continue to defend the law in ongoing cases.

For now, the future of the bill’s provisions will be decided by Barker.

“It will be up to the court to decide whether others can intervene,” Corbin said.

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