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Zoeller: Parts of immigration law can't stand

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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said Tuesday a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down most of a tough Arizona law will impact a similar immigration law signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2011.

“Certain portions of the state law cannot stand,” Zoeller said in a statement announcing that provisions of SEA 590 allowing warrantless arrests cannot be defended.

Zoeller filed a brief to that effect in an ACLU case, Buquer v. Indianapolis, 1:11-CV-0708, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.

“… the Attorney General recognizes the constitutional infirmities inherent in a warrantless arrest for a removal order, a notice of action, or the commission of an aggravated felony that would subject the arrestee to removal,” Zoeller wrote in the brief. “The Attorney General will submit the issue to the Court with the recommendation that a warrantless arrest under those circumstances is unconstitutional.”

The ACLU suit also challenged SEA 590’s criminalization of the use of consular-issued identification cards. Zoeller said an inference from Arizona, et al. v. United States, 11-182, that this portion of the law should be struck down was an improper reading of the SCOTUS decision.

“While the use of consular identification cards was not addressed in Arizona, (the state recognizes) the substantial questions about how far the Indiana legislature may go to criminalize purely private behavior … and how far the pre-emption doctrine can go toward defining what identification a State may recognize as valid for public and governmental purposes,” Zoeller wrote in the filing, leaving the question open for the court.

“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.

Zoeller also is defending the law in another case, Union Benefica Mexicana v. State, 2:11-CV-00482, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, which challenges the law’s restrictions on employees and employers. The suit challenges 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 his statement, Zoeller said he will continue to defend that case in light of the Arizona ruling, but no brief has been filed in that matter because the case has been stayed.

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