News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 26, 2012

Immigration ruling may affect Indiana’s law

Brian Boyce
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The blow dealt Arizona’s immigration policy by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday was felt across the country, as states with similar laws ponder their next move.

Indiana was among 15 states signing a friend-of-the-court brief in support of Arizona’s immigration laws in February as the case moved to the Supreme Court. In 2011, the Indiana General Assembly passed a Senate bill, which among other things allowed Indiana police officers to arrest illegal immigrants subject to court removal orders and would have prohibited the use of foreign consular identification cards as valid identification.

Both of those issues, opponents argue, are in fact more extreme than those contained within the Arizona law now deemed unconstitutional.

According to a statement issued by Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller Monday, his office will review the Supreme Court ruling to determine its potential impact on the two court cases currently against the Hoosier law.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision provides valuable guidance to Indiana and other states in the proper role we serve in cooperation with the federal government in enforcing immigration laws,” Zoeller said in the release. “The failure of Congress to reform our immigration statutes has put states in the difficult position of seeking this guidance from the judicial branch.

“My office will take the time necessary to review the court’s decision today in more detail and make decisions regarding our two cases currently pending in which Indiana is a party. After thorough review, we plan to advise Indiana’s legislature of any necessary changes to our current statutes,” Zoeller said.

Ken Falk, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, noted his organization has been actively involved in opposing the state’s immigration law, filing suits against the state on behalf of plaintiffs.

“If nothing else, it just reinforces the unconstitutionality of the Indiana law,” said Falk told the Associated Press.

At present, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office is defending the law in both the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana and the Southern District of Indiana, in Union Beneficia Mexicana versus the State of Indiana and Buquer versus the City of Indianapolis, respectively.

The Supreme Court decision, Falk said, means that portions of Indiana’s law will ultimately be struck down, although a timeline for that isn’t known just yet. The issue, he said, is the state’s attempt to usurp authority meant for the federal government.

“I think any time you have states assuming power that they do not have it’s problematic,” he said, adding that in Indiana’s case, the state’s law allows for arrest without warrant. “And that’s an issue that affects all Americans, not just people here as immigrants.”

Linda Kelly Hill, professor of law at Indiana University’s School of Law in Indianapolis, said states such as Indiana will have to re-examine their laws in light of the ruling.

“The decision very sweepingly recognizes the federal authority over immigration matters,” she said.

State laws which “encroach” upon the federal authority will be deemed unconstitutional, whereas those which “cooperate” with it will be left to stand, she said. Given that Indiana’s law goes further than Arizona’s in some regards, there’s little question it will have to be changed, she said.

But how and when those changes will occur is still unknown, she said, noting that each state crafted its own law independently, and thus each will have to be examined individually.

Brian Boyce can be reached at 812-231-4253 or