The leader of Indiana's Senate Democrats called Monday for new state laws extending driving privileges and in-state college tuition rates to people who are living in the U.S. illegally.
Senate Minority Tim Lanane of Anderson wants the Legislature to pass a trio of bills during the session that begins in January, saying the measures would demonstrate that Indiana is a welcoming place and help address the needs of residents who may have been brought to the state as young children.
Lanane's suggestion comes amid an increasingly hardline tone from some corners of the GOP on immigration, perhaps most notably Republican presidential primary front-runner Donald Trump, who has advocated building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and expelling the millions of people in the U.S. illegally.
Indiana GOP spokeswoman Erin Reece did not immediately comment on Lanane's proposals.
"There needs to be a public debate about this," said Lanane, who hopes for support from majority Republicans who control the Legislature. "The public needs to hear this debate, and they can judge what's right and wrong."
One proposal would allow immigrants who graduated after at least three years of high school in Indiana to receive significantly lower in-state college tuition rates. Another would allow people living in the country illegally to obtain driving permits in Indiana.
"We need to be practical about these things," Lanane said. "You have individuals who are working, they are trying to support their families and they are probably out there operating vehicles right now without the benefit of either a license or (insurance)."
A third proposal would allow the immigrants to get dialysis treatment from Medicaid before it became a life-and-death matter.