State Sen.: Indiana Should Consider Arizona Immigration Law

Delph Plans To Introduce Legislation

A state senator says Indiana should consider an immigration policy similar to Arizona's new law that makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally.

Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, said he'll introduce some type of immigration legislation in Indiana if Congress and the Obama administration do not act soon on illegal immigration.

"State Sen. Mike Delph should not have to introduce a bill dealing with illegal immigration," he told 6News' Renee Jameson. "U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh should. U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar should. Where have they been? Nowhere, and they both need to grow a spine and stand up for the people of Indiana."

Delph has proposed bills aimed at cracking down on illegal immigration before, but they've never won the approval from the General Assembly, where Republicans control the Senate and Democrats control the House.

About 55,000 to 85,000 illegal immigrants live in Indiana, according to 2006 estimates from the PEW Hispanic Center. Some critics of Delph's previous immigration proposals have said that Indiana's economy needs both legal and illegal immigrant workers to thrive.

Some in Indianapolis said they were in favor of Delph's proposal.

"If you're illegal and you're coming through here, and no one knows who you are, you can do anything," said Indianapolis resident Bryan Hall. "So we're just trying to keep our place safe."

But others said more needs to be examined in Indiana before new laws are put in place.

"A lot of people that are here illegally, if it's especially an immigration issue, you also have to crack the other side, which is the business," said Indianapolis resident Coley Winbush. "There is a reason why people are up here illegally."

The Arizona law, set to take effect July 29, makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally and directs local police to question individuals about their immigration status and demand documentation if they suspect a person is in the country illegally.

Critics say the law encourages racial profiling and is unconstitutional, and several lawsuits seeking to block its implementation are pending in federal court. Several cities have urged boycotts against Arizona businesses to protest the law.

Arizona's governor has said the boycotts are misguided because the law mirrors a federal requirement that legal immigrants carry immigration papers. Delph said he believes Arizona's law is constitutional and said the boycotts are spurred by ignorance of existing federal law.

But Tony Barreda, chairman of the East Chicago-based Community Coalition for Immigrants, told The Times of Munster that protests would come to Indiana if the state enacted an Arizona-type proposal.

"To do this in Indiana where we're strapped economically, you can bet your life there will be a major movement here as far as boycotting the state itself," Barreda said.

Delph said he hopes to figure out details of his latest immigration proposal before the 2011 legislative session, which begins in January.

He wrote an opinion piece for Indiana newspapers saying both Republican and Democratic federal administrations have refused to enforce immigration laws and Congress has pandered to various ethnic groups.

"Until we have an administration and a Congress willing to take control of this situation, it will be up to the states to exercise the rights granted to them in federal law as Arizona has done," Delph wrote.