ACLU defends against immigration enforcement



The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana filed a request for an injunction against SEA 590, an immigration reform bill signed into law by Governor Mitch Daniels on May 10.

The lawsuit is on behalf of three Indiana residents in particular. A report Wednesday by The Indianapolis Star identifies the plaintiffs as Ingrid Buquer, a Mexican citizen living in Franklin; Berlin Urtiz, a Mexican citizen who now resides in Indianapolis and has been a U.S. citizen since 2001; and Louisa Adair, a Nigerian citizen who is also living in Indianapolis.

In a press release circulated Thursday by the ACLU:

"For these three plaintiffs and many others in similar situations, this law would allow their arrests simply because paperwork - perhaps even paperwork supporting their routes to citizenship - had been issued by an agency sometime in their lives, even if they have committed no crime," said Kenneth J. Falk, legal director of American Civil Liberties Union - Indiana, the lead counsel in the case. "The law also will put police officers into positions for which they have not been trained and in fact are the province of federal immigration authorities."

As The Indy Star report details:

Major provisions of the legislation passed this year included penalizing businesses for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants and denying in-state college tuition aid for undocumented students who live in Indiana.

At issue in this lawsuit are provisions that allow state and local police to arrest persons based solely on a "removal order" from an immigration court, a "detainer or notice of action issued" or if they have been convicted of one or more aggravated felonies — even if they have served their time and been lawfully released.

At the core of the ACLU's complaint is the assertion that the grounds for arrest outlined in the new lar would "violate the constitutional protection against arrests without probably cause and conflicts with preemptive federal immigration law."

The complaint says that, for example, the Nigerian plaintiff would be subject to arrest under the new law because a removal order was issued against her 15 years ago. She has valid work authorization from the Department of Homeland Security and a pending request to reopen the removal proceedings.

In the case of another plaintiff, a Mexican citizen with permanent resident status, a years-old theft conviction could make him subject to arrest, even though he served his sentence and his crime was later reduced to a misdemeanor.

The third plaintiff is also a Mexican citizen who has applied for a special visa because she was a victim of and witness to a violent crime. The fact that the United States Citizens and Immigration Services issued a "notice of action" to her indicating receipt of her application could make her subject to arrest.

If the suit fails in court, these new provisions will begin affecting tens of thousands of residents July 1.


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