INDIANAPOLIS (CBS) -- An Indiana State Senate committee has approved a bill that is intended to bring about an Arizona-style crackdown on illegal immigration in the state.
The Indiana Senate Labor Committee 8-1 Wednesday night to advance the proposal, which opponents attacked as opening the door for legitimizing racial profiling.
The sponsor and author of the bill, state Sen. Mike Delph (R-Carmel), said much as in Arizona, the bill would require police officers to ask for proof of citizenship and or legal immigration status from anyone they stop for violating any law, assuming there is "reasonable suspicion," the Evansville Courier Press reported.
Delph told the Labor Committee that "the inability to speak the English language" would be one of the major causes for suspicion, the newspaper reported.
The bill would also allow police officers to arrest anyone they have probable cause to be an illegal immigrant, and requires all prisons to check the legal status of their inmates, the Courier Press reported.
The bill would also require firms that contract with public agencies to check the immigration status of all their employees with the E-Verify system, the newspaper reported.
Sen. Mike Young of (R-Indianapolis) says he supports the measure because legislators have an obligation to uphold the laws that are in place and protect the state's residents.
But Sen. Karen Tallian of Portage (D-Portage) voted against the bill, saying it goes to "ridiculous lengths" and that it's a "bazillion lawsuits waiting to happen."
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, a Republican, also came out against the bill, saying debate over illegal immigration should take place in Congress rather than the states, the Courier Press reported.
The bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration of its financial costs.
The controversial law approved last year from Arizona made it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally. It required local police officers to question people about their immigration status if there were reasonable suspicion to do so.
Opponents said the law would lead to rampant racial profiling and police harassment against legal immigrants and U.S. citizens who look Hispanic. They said it would turn Arizona into a police state.
The passage of the law even led Highland Park High School to cancel a planned trip to Arizona for its girls' basketball team last year, for fear that members of the team might be harassed by police officers enforcing the law.
Soon after Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill, President Barack Obama's administration stepped in and blocked some of its provisions in federal court. But several other states have filed similar bills.
An Arizona lawmaker has now introduced a bill that would disqualify the children of illegal immigrants from being U.S. citizens, a move that would alter the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
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