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Northern District judge tosses challenge to Indiana immigration law

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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging portions of Indiana’s immigration law passed in 2011.

Judge Jon DeGuilio of the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, ruled in an order Tuesday that an East Chicago nonprofit lacked standing to bring the suit against the state and numerous local and state elected officials, including sheriffs and prosecutors in Northwest Indiana.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund filed the suit in December 2011 on behalf of Union Benefica Mexicana, a group providing cultural, educational and health programs to the Hispanic community and others in Northwest Indiana. The suit targets Indiana Code 22-4-39.5 and 22-5-6, statutes dealing with the verification of one’s eligibility to work in the U.S.

Union Benefica Mexicana v. State of Indiana, et al., 2:11-CV-482, claimed the immigration law passed in 2011 violates the Fourth and 11th amendments, the supremacy clause and the contracts clause. The lawsuit focuses on two sections of the new 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.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement, “My office fulfilled its duty to aggressively defend the state statute the Legislature passed from two separate legal challenges while following the United States Supreme Court’s guidance. The federal court has vindicated our defense and thrown out the plaintiff’s challenge to the state statute.”

Zoeller previously said that as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court striking down warrantless arrest provisions of an Arizona law that were similar to those in Indiana’s statute, he would no longer defend those positions. Afterward, three state senators unsuccessfully sought to intervene to defend the statute in that lawsuit, which has been concluded.


 

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