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NILC Files Lawsuit Challenging Indiana’s Draconian Law

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

CONTACT: 

Adela de la Torre, NILC, (213) 674-2832; delatorre@nilc.org
Elizabeth Beresford, (917) 498-9697 or (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org
Ken Falk, ACLU of Indiana, (317) 635-4059 x104; kfalk@aclu-in.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, the ACLU, and the law firm of Lewis & Kappes, P.C., filed a class action lawsuit today challenging a discriminatory Indiana law inspired by Arizona’s notorious SB 1070.  The lawsuit charges the law authorizes police to make warrantless arrests of individuals based on assumed immigration status and criminalizes the mere use or acceptance of the commonly used consular ID card.  The groups charge that the law will lead to racial profiling and trample upon the rights of all Indiana residents.

“Indiana has created a law that not only tramples on the constitutional rights of Hoosiers, but also improperly involves Indiana in areas that are clearly of federal, not state, concerns,” said Ken Falk, legal director of the ACLU of Indiana.

Some state lawmakers oppose the extreme law, saying it will increase law enforcement costs and deter both employers and employees from coming to the state. Indiana University has also expressed concerns that the law will discourage enrollment and academic participation, noting that the institution hosts thousands of foreign national students, faculty members and visitors each school year.

“By cutting off the use of secure foreign photo identification, the law has effectively denied foreign visitors, scholars and immigrants in general the ability to engage in important commercial activity,” said Linton Joaquin, general counsel of the National Immigration Law Center. “These secure forms of official identification, which can be used by a visiting professor to open a bank account or by a foreign national to provide proof of identification in a wide variety of settings, are vital to both immigrants and society. This provision, like the rest of the law, is misguided and will undoubtedly have unintended social and economic consequences.”

Immigration bills inspired by Arizona’s SB 1070 have been introduced across the country this legislative season, but Indiana is only the third state to pass the controversial legislation this year. The state becomes one of only four, along with Arizona, Utah and Georgia, to enact draconian state-based immigration laws. The ACLU, NILC and a coalition of civil rights groups filed lawsuits in Arizona and Utah. The most troubling provisions of SB 1070 have been blocked by a federal appellate court, and the Utah law has been blocked by the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, pending further review. 

The lawsuit charges that the Indiana law is unconstitutional in that it unlawfully interferes with federal power and authority over immigration matters in violation of the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and authorizes unreasonable seizures and arrests in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

“Indiana has unwisely chosen to follow down Arizona’s unconstitutional path,” said Andre Segura, staff attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project. “This law marginalizes entire communities by criminalizing commonly accepted forms of identification. The law also undermines our most cherished constitutional safeguards by putting Indiana residents at risk of unlawful warrantless arrests without any suspicion of wrongdoing, much less criminal activity.” 

The lawsuit was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana on behalf of three individual plaintiffs who would be subject to harassment or arrest under the law.

Attorneys on the case include Falk, Jan P. Mensz and Gavin M. Rose of ACLU of Indiana; Segura, Lee Gelernt, Omar C. Jadwat, Cecillia D. Wang and Katherine Desormeau of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project; Joaquin, Karen C. Tumlin and Shiu-Ming Cheer of NILC; and Angela D. Adams of Lewis & Kappes, P.C.

See the complaint.

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