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Hoosiers looking closely at immigration ruling

Indiana officials are taking a closer look at the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to strike key provisions of Arizona’s immigration law.

Unlike Arizona, Indiana isn’t anywhere near Mexico. But Hoosier lawmakers last year adopted its own version of a ‘get-tough’ immigration law modeled after Arizona’s.

There are some similarities but also some important differences. The biggest is that Indiana’s law does not allow police to arrest immigrants for failing to carry proof of their legal status.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down that provision in Arizona’s law. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said the court’s decision was necessary.

“The failure of Congress to reform our immigration statutes over the years has put states in the difficult position of having to seek this guidance from the judicial branch,” Zoeller said.

Zoeller adds that he’ll need to determine exactly how the court’s ruling will affect Indiana’s law.

“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision provides valuable guidance to Indiana and other states in the proper role we serve in cooperation with the federal government in enforcing immigration laws,” Zoeller said. After a thorough review, we plan to advise Indiana’s legislature of any necessary changes to our current statutes.”

Two federal lawsuits are currently challenging Indiana’s statute contending it promotes ethnic profiling of Hispanics.  One suit was filed by the Union Benefica Mexicana, based in East Chicago. Another was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

Ken Falk is the lawyer for the ACLU of Indiana. He said the U.S. Supreme Court's decision blocking part of a similar law in Arizona shows the Indiana law is unconstitutional.

A federal judge last year blocked part of the Indiana law that gave local police power to arrest anyone who has had certain actions filed against them by immigration authorities.

Falk contends Indiana law goes further than the Arizona law because it allows police to arrest immigrants who haven't committed a crime.

Falk says the Indiana law is a "clear violation of the Fourth Amendment."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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