Senate Bill 590 is a racist piece of legislation currently in the process of being pushed through the Indiana Senate. Much like Arizona’s recently passed anti-immigrant bill, SB 1070, it dictates that:
- State and local law enforcement officers who stop anyone for violating any law or ordinance must ask for proof that the person is here legally, if the officers have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is not a citizen or legal visitor. If any such person fails to provide proof, the bill allows for the person’s easy arrest and, upon approval of the Department of Homeland Security , their eventual transferal into federal custody.
- Businesses that hire illegal immigrants can be penalized and/ or shut down.
- Most government transactions, documents and meetings would be limited to English. Except in a few particular circumstances, state officers and employees would be disallowed from communicating information in any language other than English. The state would shut down their Spanish language portal and discontinue printing forms and ballots in other languages.
- Activities as vague as ‘transporting’, ‘harboring’ and ‘concealing’ immigrants would be criminalized, as well as the conspiracy to do so. This would extend to landlords who hadn’t obtained tenants’ proof of citizenship prior to renting. ‘Encouraging an alien to come into the United States’ would also become a crime.
- No financial aid, scholarships, or grants would be available to undocumented immigrants. In-state tuition would also be denied.
- Cities and counties would be barred from limiting the enforcement of federal immigration laws (i.e. no sanctuary cities).
On February 22nd, the bill passed the Senate 31 to 18. It now stands to go before the House, and could be ratified into law by the end of February or early March. Given its relatively easy passage through the Senate (facing opposition primarily from business interests), and more importantly given the general political climate throughout the state, it is unlikely that the racist tenor of the bill will incur much legislative opposition. What is needed to stop the bill is self-organized social struggle across the state.
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