An Indiana Senate bill that faced widespread criticism for its prohibition of so-called “sanctuary campus” policies at Indiana colleges and universities is now headed to the full House for consideration, though in a much different form than what was considered by the Senate.
Senate Bill 423, authored by Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, passed the House Judiciary Committee Monday with a unanimous 12-0 vote. However, the bill passed the House committee in a significantly amended form after education officials, immigrant advocates and concerned citizens previously spoke out against a measure they said was a solution in search of a problem.
In hearings before the Senate committees and the full chamber, Young said SB 423 was designed to bring Indiana post-secondary institutions into compliance with existing laws already applicable to other governmental entities.
The Indiana General Assembly in 2011 prohibited governmental entities from enacting sanctuary city policies and instead requiring them to comply with federal immigration laws and investigations. However, public universities, as well as private colleges and universities receiving state and federal funds, were not included in the list of “governmental entities,” Young said, and SB 423 was meant to bring those schools into compliance with the existing state laws.
However, SB 423 quickly came under fire from constituents and legislators. Rep. Woody Burton, R-Whiteland, the House sponsor of the measure, said he told Young that the legislation, as originally proposed, would not work. Instead, Burton said he and Young began consulting with legal experts and state higher education officials to develop a bill that would ease the widespread concerns.
In its amended form passed by the House Judiciary Committee Monday, SB 423 is stripped of various provisions and regulations, such as a prohibition against post-secondary institutions denying the U.S. Department of Homeland Security access to their campuses. Instead, the bill now simply holds that, “A governmental body or a postsecondary educational institution may not limit or restrict the enforcement of federal immigration laws to less than the full extent permitted by federal law.”
House Judiciary Chair Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, said representatives of Indiana’s higher education institutions were comfortable with the amended version of SB 423, and Richard Ludwick, president and CEO of the Indiana Colleges of Indiana, told the committee that his organization supported the amendment.
Further, Ludwick said most of the presidents of the member ICI colleges had already indicated that they intended to comply with federal immigration laws and policies. To that end, Ludwick likened SB 423 to a hammer in search of a nail, and some committee members, including Democratic representatives Ed Delaney and Ryan Hatfield, from Indianapolis and Evansville, respectively, questioned the need for the legislation.
Burton assured the committee that the bill is not meant to limit student expression, but instead to prohibit the leadership of Indiana higher education institutions from formally adopting sanctuary campus policies.