The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund has filed a lawsuit on behalf of La Union Benefica Mexicana, a nonprofit organization in East Chicago, protesting two previously unchallenged portions of Indiana’s new immigration law.
In June 2011, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker blocked two other provisions of Public Law 171 – which originated as Senate Bill 590.
The MALDEF complaint, filed Dec. 20, claims that La Union Benefica Mexicana has had to divert resources to educating people about the possible implications of Public Law 171, specifically Indiana Code 22-4-39.5 and 22-5-6. Both concern the verification of a person’s eligibility to work in the United States. Indiana Code 22-5-6-4 states that anyone who enforces employment law and has probable cause to believe that a person has violated requirements for day labor shall file a complaint with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF president and general counsel, said in a statement: “Our Constitution permits only one government – the federal government – to regulate immigration, and the federal government has enacted comprehensive laws regulating the employment of immigrants. By seeking to independently punish workers and employers, SB 590 runs afoul of that basic constitutional principle.”
In May 2011, the National Immigration Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and the national ACLU Foundation Immigrants’ Rights Project filed a class-action lawsuit challenging portions of the law that would allow police to conduct warrantless arrests and would penalize immigrants for using their consular identification cards.
That complaint resulted in Barker’s declaration that those two portions of the law were unenforceable. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a motion Dec. 21 asking the court to temporarily halt proceedings in Buquer, et al. v. City of Indianapolis, et al., No. 1:2011-CV-00708, the class-action complaint filed last May. Zoeller made the request because the Supreme Court of the United States has agreed to hear a challenge to Arizona’s immigration law, and the resulting opinion will clarify what states’ roles are in enforcing immigration laws, Zoeller said in a statement.•