Thursday, January 12, 2006

House GOP Radicals Push Anti-Immigrant Legislation

House Speaker Pro Tem Eric Turner (R), along with Reps. Billy Bright (R), John Smith (R) and Troy Woodruff (R) are all pushing a blatantly unconstiutional anti-immigrant bill this year ala D.C. Stephenson and the KKK of the 1920s. Back then the targets were Catholics, Eastern Europeans, Jews and blacks. Today, the target is Indiana's growing Hispanic population.

HB 1383 is fashioned after California's ill-fated Proposition 187, which was thrown out by the federal courts as unconstitutional soon after its enactment in 1994. HB 1383 would prohibit public schools from admitting children of illegal immigrants, prohibit state education institutions from enrolling illegal aliens, deny any public assistance benefits to illegal aliens (other than emergency medical care), or permit a government from issuing or renewing a license, permit or other official authorization to an illegal alien. The bill also makes it a Class C felony to "make, utter or possess" forged documents. And it requires Indiana law enforcement officials to get into the business of rounding up illegal aliens and turning them over to federal authorities.

In the 1982 decision, Plyler v. Doe, the Supreme Court struck down a Texas statute which withheld from local school districts any state funds for the education of children who were not "legally admitted" into the United States, and which authorized local school districts to deny enrollment to such children as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Similarly, California's Proposition 187 barred illegal aliens from receiving any taxpayer-paid benefits and services, including schools and colleges, and it directed state agencies to cooperate with federal law enforcement in enforcing immigration laws. Citing the Plyler decision, a federal district court struck down the law, which the state chose not to appeal to a higher court.

Rep. Turner's bill is clearly designed to play on people's prejudices towards the state's growing Hispanic population, which has become an integral part of our economy. Whether Rep. Turner likes it or not, Indiana employers rely heavily on this pool of workers to sustain their businesses. By some estimates, there are as many as 20 million illegal aliens in the U.S., most of whom are from Mexico. Rather than looking for ways to alienate and discriminate against this group of people, we should be looking for a solution such as that proposed by President Bush which would allow them to live and work in the U.S. legally under a guest worker visa program.

HB 1383 has been assigned to the Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Bill Ruppel. House Republicans must give this bill a proper burial. To do otherwise would be to continue to alienate another large bloc of voters from the Republican Party, which it has already done with respect to the state's GLBT community.

1 comment:

Kevin said...

What is Troy Woodruff's deal? The current lawmakers keep pushing this state further backwards. I keep thinking that the younger generation will change things, but Troy Woodruff IS the younger generation. He's only 35. Canada keeps looking better and better.