Immigration committee hopeful Congress will act

During the final meeting of the Indiana Senate Select Committee on Immigration Issues Thursday, the senators said they were frustrated that states do not have more power to address illegal immigration and believe the new administration and Congress will undertake reform.

The committee spent much of the hourlong meeting reviewing and commenting on a report compiled from the previous five meetings. Referring to the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president, Sen. Mike Delph, chair, said for the first time since he joined the Legislature in 2005, he feels as if Washington, D.C., will finally step up to the plate and curb illegal immigration.

The Carmel Republican did not propose any legislation but noted the committee did discuss the potential of enacting a law that would allow the state to revoke the license of a business that is found to be employing undocumented workers.

Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, echoed many of his committee colleagues when he said Congress cannot keep putting off immigration reform. However, he also pointed out the human side of immigration, which can get lost in the rhetoric and emotion surrounding the topic.     

“These immigrants aren’t all rapists and thieves,” Mrvan said. “They are hardworking people who just like us worry about their children … .”

He outlined three bills the Democratic caucus was planning to introduce next session to address the humanitarian issues raised by illegal immigration. Included in the proposals was a measure to extend in-state college tuition to undocumented students and allow undocumented residents to receive driver’s licenses.

Delph said the report would be available to legislators and that he was going to send copies to Indiana’s Congressional delegation as well as vice president-elect Mike Pence.

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