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Immigration bill to be heard Wednesday
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Immigration bill to be heard Wednesday

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INDIANAPOLIS | An Arizona-style immigration law proposed for Indiana will get its first committee hearing Wednesday at the Statehouse.

Senate Bill 590 requires a police officer who stops any person to verify the citizenship and immigration status of that person if the officer has "reasonable suspicion" the person is in the country without authorization.

"It's time lawmakers united and said we will no longer allow Indiana to be a sanctuary for people who are in our country illegally," said state Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, sponsor of the legislation.

The measure also prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving in-state tuition, scholarships and financial aid for college; requires businesses to verify the immigration status of their employees; and mandates state and local governments use English only to communicate with Hoosiers.

"It's time that we put an end to 'press one for English and two for Spanish' in our state," Delph said.

In addition, under the legislation, any business that receives three violations for employing illegal workers would lose its Indiana business licenses and could be forced to shut down.

An analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that as of 2009 Indiana may be home to 85,000 to 150,000 unauthorized immigrants.

Delph claims Indiana state and local governments could save up to $600 million a year by no longer providing services to illegal immigrants.

"These numbers are very troubling when lawmakers are trying to stretch our state's tax dollars during this economic downturn," he said.

The nonpartisan Indiana Legislative Services Agency has not evaluated the potential state financial savings of Delph's proposal.

The Senate Pensions and Labor Committee will hear from Delph and take public testimony on the proposal starting at 8 a.m. region time Wednesday in the Senate chamber.

Region lawmakers who serve on the committee are state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, the top Democrat on the committee; and state Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, a former LaPorte County sheriff.

A similar proposal enacted in Arizona last year led to national and international condemnation and organized boycotts of Arizona and state products. But public opinion polls show most Americans support the Arizona law.

The U.S. Justice Department has sued Arizona in federal court to stop implementation of the law. A decision in that case is pending before the federal appeals court in San Francisco.

For several years, Delph has won passage of state immigration-enforcement legislation in the Republican-controlled Senate, but his various proposals never went anywhere in what then was a Democrat-controlled Indiana House. Republicans now have majorities in both chambers.


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