We want to briefly emphasize another racist, anti-immigrant initiative
creeping along in Indiana’s legislature. The goal of House Bill 1402
is to “prohibit resident tuition for illegal aliens.” Given the class
status of most undocumented people, the implicit aim is their
expulsion from all higher education.
SB 590 has garnered widespread opposition across the political
spectrum. Even for many anti-immigrant bigots and advocates of
heightened social control, it seems like too much, too fast. They
believe that the kind of diffuse surveillance required to keep tabs on
immigrants needs to be implemented slowly. HB 1402 is a much more
modest effort, targeting only one sector of the immigrant population,
using a reasonable, if incoherent, rhetoric.
The argument goes that if a citizen from Illinois has to pay
out-of-state tuition, it is only fair that someone in the country
illegally should as well. The obvious hole in this logic is that
it’s comparing two entirely different standards. It is conflating residency
and status, as many undocumented students have lived in Indiana most of
their lives, thus meeting the same standard as all other students receiving
The broader goal for both bills is the creation of a legal
racial-underclass. SB 590 tries to reach this goal right away, by
empowering the police to systematically target immigrants and people
of color, and through many other measures. HB 1402 is seeking to
reach it slowly, by creating a class of students for whom exceptional
laws apply: a strong foundation for prejudice that can always be built
For this reason, not only did all the House Republicans support the
bill, but half of House Democrats did as well (the initial House vote
was 75-14). And while everyone on the Left has raced to denounce SB
590, many remain silent on this bill. The loud opposition to SB 590
voiced by prominent Democrats masks their real intention, which is
the slow and rational reorganization of economic exploitation and racial
hierarchy in this state, in opposition to the hasty and haphazard rush
of the Republicans. Here in Bloomington, this point is illustrated
perfectly by a progressive City Council that votes to condemn SB 590 and
endorse heightened border security at the same time (during its March 9
session; see the Indiana Compact).
A Senate committee will schedule a hearing on HB 1402 this Wednesday, March 16th, at 1:30 PM in Room 233.
There is a rally against SB 1402 & SB 590, organized by the Indiana Student Coalition for Immigrant Rights (ISCIR), in Indianapolis on Tuesday, March 15 from 2:30-5:30pm. Meet at Indiana State Capitol Building (south stairs at the Washington St. Entrance) – 200 W Washington St. Indianapolis, IN.