Immigration reform debate lands in Indiana Statehouse

WBEZ interviews state senator who leads charge for reform

February 9, 2011

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A committee in the Indiana Senate will hear testimony Wednesday over an “Arizona-like” bill to overhaul the state’s stance on illegal immigration. The particular measure under consideration is Senate Bill 590, which would give state and local police authority to arrest any person they believe is an illegal alien.

The bill would also require state and local governments in Indiana to use English in official documents in most situations.

Opponents include Hispanic groups around the state and the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Indiana’s Attorney General Greg Zoeller has also expressed concerns, including how much the state would have to spend to enforce immigration policy. Zoeller says enforcement is better left up to the federal government.

The bill’s author is Indiana Senator Mike Delph, a Republican from Carmel, a suburb of Indianapolis. He says he drafted the legislation to prevent Indiana from becoming a “sanctuary for illegal immigrants.” He suspects the immigrants’ presence costs the state hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

WBEZ’s Northwest Indiana reporter Michael Puente talked with Delph about the bill and the provisions leading up to Wednesday’s hearing. He asked Delph whether the measure would encourage racial profiling by police officers.