Government & Economic Development and Government and Law

ACLU: Arizona ruling shows Indiana law is invalid

June 25, 2012

Two lawyers who challenged Indiana's immigration law said the U.S. Supreme Court's decision Monday to throw out part of a similar law in Arizona reinforces a federal judge's decision to block the Indiana statute.

"If nothing else, it just reinforces the unconstitutionality of the Indiana law," said Ken Falk, legal director of American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

Last year, U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker issued an order preventing part of the 2011 Indiana law that gave local police power to arrest anyone who has had certain actions filed against them by immigration authorities.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down provisions of Arizona's law that required all immigrants to obtain or carry immigration registration papers; made it a state criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job; and allowed police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants.

But the court did not throw out the provision requiring police to check the immigration status of someone they suspect is not in the United States legally. Even there, though, the justices said the provision could be subject to additional legal challenges.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said he would review the court's decision and advise lawmakers of any changes required in the statute.

Falk said the Arizona law required police to suspect an immigrant had committed a crime before making an arrest, while Indiana's law allowed police to arrest people who hadn't committed a crime. He said the Indiana law was "a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment."

"The reasoning of the Court's decision strongly supports the Indiana district court's injunction of two provisions of Indiana's law," said Linton Joaquin, general counsel with National Immigration Law Center, which helped the ACLU represent the three immigrants who filed the lndiana lawsuit.

Barker last year threw out a provision of the Indiana law that would allow the arrest of anyone who has had a notice of action filed by immigration authorities, a formal paperwork step that affects virtually anyone applying to be in the U.S. for any reason. The other portion of the law that was blocked would have made it illegal for immigrants to use ID cards issued by foreign consulates as proof of identification.

"As a whole, the decision appears to reinforce the proposition that immigration is the sole province of the federal government and states do not have a role," Falk said.

The Indiana state government, which is fighting to have the temporary injunction lifted claims that police could only arrest immigrants when they have documents that show the federal government has ordered them to be removed or detained.

A Mexican cultural group in East Chicago also challenged the state law in northern Indiana federal court in December, but the judge there stayed the proceedings pending the Supreme Court's decision in the Arizona case.

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