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Indiana's immigration law reeling

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 25 ruling in Arizona v. United States wounded Indiana’s immigration law, particularly controversial provisions similar to those the court struck down in the Arizona case.

“My reading of the Supreme Court case is it further supports our argument that the law is unconstitutional and pre-empted” by federal law, said Ken Falk, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, which filed one of two federal lawsuits challenging portions of the Indiana law.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a June 29 interview that he was left with a choice between continuing to defend some portions of the law or allowing a temporary injunction in the ACLU case to be made permanent, the effect of which could be striking down the entire law.
 

zoeller-greg.jpg Zoeller

Zoeller said he planned to talk with lawmakers, and that state and plaintiffs’ attorneys in the lawsuits challenging Indiana’s law had begun discussions about how to proceed.

The question, Zoeller said, is “whether we’re willing to put up with all the facial or as-applied challenges, or whether it’s better for the Legislature to go back and try again.”

The high court struck down most of Arizona’s immigration law. The court affirmed for now the so-called “show your papers” clause requiring police to question someone’s immigration status if reasonable suspicion exists, but justices left open the possibility of future challenges.

“As much as people would disagree with me, I think it keeps the status quo,” attorney Alonzo Rivas said of the Supreme Court ruling, noting the court affirmed unambiguously that immigration policy and enforcement were matters reserved for the federal government. “It wasn’t until recently that states and local governments decided to start dabbling into that area.”

An attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Rivas filed Union Benefica Mexicana v. State of Indiana, et al., 2:11-CV-482, challenging portions of Indiana’s immigration law, Indiana Code 22-4-39.5, enacted when Gov. Mitch Daniels signed Senate Enrolled Act 590 in 2011. Rivas filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana on behalf of a nonprofit cultural, educational and health membership organization based in East Chicago.

The action Rivas filed challenged the law’s restrictions on employees and employers. The suit claims the law violates the Fourth and 14th amendments, the Supremacy Clause and the Contracts Clause. It specifically cites two sections of the law: one that allows the Department of Workforce Development to file civil actions against employers for reimbursement of unemployment insurance if they knowingly employed illegal immigrants; and a second that prohibits someone from performing day labor without filing an attestation of employment authorization.

In the Southern District of Indiana, the ACLU of Indiana filed Buquer v. Indianapolis, et al., 1:11-CV-78. That lawsuit attacked the Indiana law that it claims steps into federal jurisdiction on detention and identification and violates the Fourth and 14th amendments. It challenged portions of the law allowing state and local law enforcement officers to make warrantless arrests when an officer has a removal order issued for the person by an immigration court, a detainer, or notice of action issued for the person by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or has probable cause to believe the person has been indicted for or convicted of one or more aggravated felonies. The suit also challenges a provision that would criminalize use or acceptance of a consular identification card.

Both cases were on hold pending the Supreme Court’s Arizona ruling. Judge Sarah Evans Barker granted a temporary injunction against portions of Indiana’s immigration law in Buquer. The ACLU has asked for summary judgment to make the injunction permanent, and a ruling could come at any time.

In Union Benefica Mexicana, the state won a request to stay those proceedings until the high court ruled. The plaintiffs in that case seek a preliminary injunction on enforcing the challenged provisions.

“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 a statement issued the day of the SCOTUS ruling.

“The failure of Congress to reform our immigration statutes has put states in the difficult position of seeking this guidance from the judicial branch.”

Senate Bill 590 author Mike Delph, R-Carmel, could not be reached for comment after the high court ruling, but he issued a statement.

“The Federal government continues to ignore its duty to enforce the law. … Presidents from both parties have pandered for political reasons and now the court is once again suggesting the federal government enforce the law. As long as the law remains unenforced, states like Indiana will bear real taxpayer expense. This is an unfunded mandate.

“Although we are still reviewing (the) United States Supreme Court decision, I remain encouraged and confident that much if not most of our law is legally permissible under this decision.”

Delph said that would include a provision requiring the governor to account for costs borne by Hoosier taxpayers related to illegal immigration and submit a bill to Congress.

Rivas said Indiana is enforcing or developing enforcement regulations for provisions of the law that have not been challenged in court.


ken falk Falk

But immigration attorneys said key parts of Indiana’s law are unlikely to withstand court scrutiny.

Angela Adams, an immigration attorney with Lewis & Kappes P.C., said Indiana’s law gives police the power to detain suspected illegal immigrants who were not suspected of committing a criminal offense.

Such a law isn’t likely to stand, she said, because justices signaled that “if a police officer was to hold someone too long solely for their immigration status, that would raise constitutional concerns.”

In the wake of the SCOTUS ruling, the Obama administration suspended a program that deputized local law enforcement to work in conjunction with federal immigration enforcement. The administration also signaled it would limit detentions of suspected illegal immigrants referred from local law enforcement unless the person detained is a suspected felon.

“That snatches from Arizona the one victory it could claim” from the ruling, said Gary Welsh, a private practice immigration attorney who writes the Indiana Immigration Law Blog.

Zoeller said Indiana’s law also presents practical issues.

“My other clients in law enforcement have been concerned about some of the realities of the enforcement of some of these statutes,” he said. That included concerns about possible escalation that could arise when authorities attempt to detain people under that law.

Welsh said people should take away from the court’s decision that the justices put a check on states, ruling that “the federal government is free to pick and choose which immigration laws it wants to vigorously enforce without any prodding from the states. The federal government’s authority in this area is supreme.”

The ACLU challenged the detentions and ID provisions of Indiana’s law that Falk said exceeded the scope of Arizona’s statute.

Falk envisioned a scenario such as someone buying beer at a grocery store and displaying a consular ID. Under the Indiana immigration law, he said, “That became an infraction for both the person showing and the person accepting it.”

Rivas cited as particularly onerous Indiana’s provision allowing the state to sue business owners found to have employed undocumented workers and recoup unemployment insurance the company paid to workers, regardless of the immigration status of the recipient. “That’s actually a stiff sanction, and we argue it’s a sanction that is pre-empted by federal law,” he said.

Indiana was among five states that passed tough immigration laws after Arizona. Since the Supreme Court announced it would review Arizona’s law, no state has passed new immigration legislation.•

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  • Dabble indeed
    The whole conversation is necessary because the federal government has utterly failed and abdicated its role in defending the borders against migrant invasion such that we have oh who knows, 15, 25, 30 million illegal immigrants here? No wonder the states have tried to "dabble." Dabble! What a word. Chosen by the apologists of crime. Who is that? Loook at all those lined up against the states, that s who. What crime? The crime of unlawful entry. From Obama on down they act like the law isnt even law. Pathetic. You expect anyone to respect the law when the president doesnt? Si se puede! Dabbling is what they have been doing at enforcement, for years. Dubya was just as bad as Obama. Dabbling indeed! One more thing. This policy is at the expense of the the poorest and most unskilled American native-borns who have to compete with all the new unskilled migrants for low paying jobs. A policy of nonenforcement of law that hurts minorities and union workers and young people-- but which panders to the Hispanic lobby. You can see why both democracts and republicans are in favor of non-enofrcement of our borders! Rich republicans get cheap labor and rich democrats get more votes! Oy, whats not to like!??

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  1. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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