(Indianapolis, Ind.) – Indiana won’t defend most of the state’s new immigration law because of the recent ruling by the nation's highest court.
State Attorney General Greg Zoller said yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court’s June ruling on similar parts of an Arizona law makes the Indiana law indefensible.
"The Supreme Court made clear that immigration enforcement is a federal government responsibility. States are frustrated by the unwillingness of the executive branch to enforce current immigration laws and inability of Congress to make reforms. As Indiana’s Attorney General, I had an obligation to defend this Indiana statute passed prior to the recent Arizona decision, but I have sworn to uphold the Constitution and my legal conclusion now is that certain portions of the state law cannot stand," Zoeller said.
The attorney general’s office has been defending SEA 590 in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana in 2011 in U.S. District Court of Southern Indiana.
A portion of Senate Enrolled Act 590 enables police to make warrantless arrests on immigration court removal orders, federal notice-of-action forms, 48-hour detainer requests or for being a foreign person who was indicted or convicted of an aggravated felony.
Zoeller said further defense of the law would not be a good use of taxpayer resources, since the state could be ordered to pay the challenger’s attorneys fees.
Some portions of the law may remain, such as a provision in the law that makes using a foreign country’s consular identification card as an ID. The state will continue to defend that portion in the ACLU lawsuit as it was not addressed in the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Other parts could remain because there are not being challenged. For example, a provision requiring companies doing business in Indiana to use the federal E-Verify database to check that their employees are eligible to work.
Although he’ll no longer defend SEA 590, Zoeller called on the federal government to do its job with immigration.
“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.