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Indiana becomes latest state to consider Arizona-like illegal immigration legislation

Jumping on the legislative bandwagon, Indiana will become the latest state to consider an Arizona-esque illegal immigration bill, one that would require law enforcement officers to verify the residency status of persons suspected of being in the state illegally who have been detained on other matters. Senate Bill 590 would amend existing laws dealing with state enforcement of federal immigration laws. Among other things, it would require the state’s office of management and budget to calculate the costs incurred by Indiana from the presence of illegal aliens and would require that office to issue a written request to the U.S. Congress for reimbursement of those costs. The bill would also require all state and local entities and business entities to use E-Verify.

Two other provisions, however, are likely to garner the most attention. The bill would require law enforcement personnel to verify the immigration status of individuals suspected of unrelated offenses, if the officers believe just cause exists to doubt the legality of that status. Officers would then be allowed to arrest individuals they believe may be in the country illegally. The Arizona provision has faced fierce attacks and is the subject of a federal lawsuit.

The bill also cracks down on employers who hire undocumented workers. One provision would create a process through which the state could suspend, or revoke, the business licenses; similar provisions in other states have come under fire by the business communities and immigration activists. Under the proposed measure, state entities would be able to terminate contracts with contractors who knowingly hire undocumented workers and the transportation of such workers would be a state offense.

It is unclear the extent to which Indiana workers are threatened by an influx of undocumented workers.