Brigid Curtis Ayer 
Indiana Catholic Conference
April 20, 2011 // Local

House responds to concerns of Alliance for Immigration Reform, amends immigration bill

Brigid Curtis Ayer 
Indiana Catholic Conference

By Brigid Curtis Ayer

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana House of Representatives addresses concerns of Alliance for Immigration Reform of Indiana (AIRI) and significantly amended the immigration reform legislation, SB 590, April 14.
The bill passed the House Public Policy Committee, 6-5, April 15.

“We are pleased that the House leadership addressed many of the concerns raised by faith communities, business, social service and agriculture groups. The committee amended out many of the egregious provisions of the bill,” said Glenn Tebbe, executive director for the Indiana Catholic Conference (ICC).

“The Church is still opposed to the bill primarily because the legislation does not address a solution to the broken federal immigration system,” said Tebbe. “Immigration reform must be comprehensive and addressed at the federal level for it to be meaningful and effective.”

The amendments removed the “reasonable suspicion” language requiring local and state police to enforce federal immigration laws. Many argued during previous testimony in the Senate that “reasonable suspicion” could only lead to racial profiling. The House also removed all the “English only” language from the bill. State entities will continue to offer services in both English and Spanish.

Rep. Rebecca Kubacki, R-Syracuse, said, “I was pleased with the amendments and the shift of the bill. It moves away from targeting the individual and more to penalizing the businesses. We need to be doing something at the federal level, but, for now, at least the fear factor is gone. There is a sense of relief in the Hispanic community.”

“The sentiment of the House and most of my colleagues is that this is a federal issue. Our hands are tied. These laws need to be changed, uniformly at the federal level,” said Kubacki.

“What we ought to be doing as legislators is to get in touch with our Congressmen and tell them to do something about the immigration problem, to put more pressure on them to act and to quit punting,” Kubacki said.

House Sponsor of the SB 590, Rep. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, said, “Illegal immigration is a problem in Indiana. We need to find a solution that’s right for Indiana. What might be right for another state like Arizona, doesn’t mean it will be right for Indiana. We are not a border state.”
He said, “The general philosophy of amendments was to tailor a solution for Indiana considering our location, geography and economy.

“We worked very closely with Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, the governor’s office, author of the bill Sen. Mike Delph and Rep. Davis, chairman of the House Public Policy Committee on these amendments,” said Koch. “It was very much a collaborative effort.”

Koch said, “The general philosophy of the bill is to target intentional wrong-doing, either on the part of an individual who commits identity theft or the business who knowingly or intentionally hires an illegal alien.”

Koch explained that SB 590 as amended would add the following penalties for companies. “Businesses that knowingly or intentionally hire an illegal alien would have to repay employment benefits, lose tax credits, and lose tax deductions for that illegal alien’s wages.

“The bill also directs the Indiana Office of Management and Budget to calculate the cost of illegal immigrants to Indiana and send the bill to the federal government,” said Koch.

Sen. Mike Delph, author of SB 590 said, “I’m going to let the House do their work on the bill. I do think there are many good things still in the bill including the human trafficking provision; prohibition of sanctuary cities, and E-Verify,” said Delph. “I think E-Verify is critically important.”
E-Verify is an Internet-based, free program offered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which allows businesses to determine if a potential employee is eligible to work in the United States.

Senate Bill 590 requires all businesses that are contracted with the state to provide services to use E-Verify.

Testimony before the House committee indicated that E-Verify works well for some business, but other businesses find it riddled with errors and ineffective.

“E-Verify is based on the Social Security Administration’s data base. The Social Security Administration admits its data base has 17 million errors,” said Ed Roberts, lobbyist for the Indiana Manufacturers Association, who testified in opposition to the bill. “That’s what we are relying on.”
Representatives from Eli Lilly Incorporated expressed concerns that the legislation, while improved, still conveys an unwelcoming perception to immigrants and could significantly hurt their ability to recruit the best international talent and be competitive in the global economy.

Rep. Koch said that he expects SB 590 to pass the House by Easter weekend.

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.