Indiana News

Hundreds Rally Against Illegal Immigration Bill

Indiana's First Hispanic GOP Rep. Suggests Tabling It This Session

3/15/2011

Hundreds of people concerned about a bill that would impose an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration attended a rally Tuesday at the Indiana Statehouse to voice their opposition.

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The "No Hate In Our State" event was organized in protest of Republican Sen. Mike Delph's proposal that would allow police officers with "reasonable suspicion" to investigate a person's immigration status after any violation, including a traffic stop.

Opponents, including Alma Rivera of South Bend, claim the discretionary authority would lead to racial profiling.

"A lot of the people that are being targeted are Hispanics," Rivera said. "If your hair is black and your skin is brown, it's going to affect you."

Under the bill, if an alleged illegal immigrant were caught during a traffic stop, police could arrest the person in Indiana and turn the person over to federal authorities.

Rep. Rebecca Kubacki (R-Syracuse), Indiana's first Hispanic Republican in the House of Representatives, suggests that there are other more pressing legislative issues at hand as a result of the ongoing standoff with House Democrats.

"We have to balance the budget. We have to do redistricting. We've got to finish up our work with education. I don't know when we'd find time, to be quite honest, to really give this issue the attention that it has to have," Kubacki said.

She plans to meet with other Hispanics in hopes of eventually developing a different bill.

"I'm meeting with a couple of Hispanic leaders in the community to say, 'These are the concerns that people have. Let's figure out how we can deal with it from our perspective.'"

Critics of Sen. Delph's proposal argue by making federal immigration enforcement the responsibility of police officers, Indiana would burden police departments, alienate citizens who raise officers' suspicions, and chase away companies and skilled employees.

But Delph maintains his bill is needed to protect Indiana from terrorist acts. He also claims state and local governments could save up to $600 million a year by no longer providing services to illegal immigrants.

Any debate or action on the immigration issue remains at a standstill with House Democrats in neighboring Illinois.

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