Friday, March 14, 2008

Awful Indiana Senate Bill 335 is Dead!

One down... let's hope that 4088 becomes history as well.

No immigration bill this year in Indiana

Eric Bradner
Originally published 06:29 p.m., March 13, 2008
Updated 07:27 p.m., March 13, 2008


Indiana will not pass a bill this year to crack down on businesses that employ undocumented aliens.

Sen. Tom Weatherwax, R-Logansport, who chaired a House-Senate conference committee tasked with finding a compromise version of the immigration bill, said that as all heads turn to property taxes in the waning hours of the legislative session, immigration goes on the back burner.

The best the legislature can do this year, he said, is to create a summer study committee that will present its recommendations to next year's General Assembly.

Weatherwax earlier Thursday had tasked the conference committee - which has one member from each party in both the House and the Senate - with finding out what their caucuses could agree to.

But half an hour after they were scheduled to reconvene Thursday night, the committee's members had not returned. That was when Weatherwax said he'd recommend a study committee instead of attempting to rush through an immigration bill before the legislative session ends Friday at midnight.

Lawmakers worked into the evening Thursday to hash out an agreement on a bill that would crack down on business that employ unauthorized immigrants.

A conference committee made up of Indiana House and Senate members has met twice today, and is scheduled to reconvene later tonight. The panel's chairman, Sen. Tom Weatherwax, R-Logansport, sent its members back to their caucuses with the instructions to find "some answers as far as what you think you could do."

The conference committee consists of one voting member from both parties in the House and Senate, and in order for the bill to proceed, it must gain unanimous approval from all four members.

Emotions are high on both sides of the debate over illegal immigration. It's drawn the attention of religious groups, which have held dueling press conferences -- some for the bill, others against it.

Opponents of the immigration bill included business leaders and advocates for the Hispanic community. They argued that illegal immigration is an issue that demands action from the federal government, not the state. They've called the bill unconstitutional. Religious leaders have also argued that the bill will cause racial profiling on the part of employers.

The bill's supporters have said that illegal immigration demands action because it places an unnecessary burden on the state's health care and education systems. They've said that while it's best for the federal government to act on the issue, its failure to do so means Indiana must pass its own bill.... (More)

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