‘Sanctuary campus’ bill passes Senate after debate

By Shelby Mullis
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana colleges could soon see changes to what they are required to disclose with the government through one Republican lawmaker’s bill.

Indianapolis Republican Sen. Michael Young’s legislation is an addition to a law, which took effect in 2011, that prohibits sanctuary cities — cities that said they will not go after undocumented immigrants unless required to do so for criminal reasons.

Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, presents Senate Bill 423 to the Senate chamber Tuesday. The bill would prohibit state- and federal-funded college and universities from declaring themselves “sanctuary campuses.” Photo by Shelby Mullis, TheStatehouseFile.com

Senate Bill 423 would go one step further to prevent Indiana’s state- and federal-funded public and private colleges and universities from declaring themselves a “sanctuary campus.”

State- and federal-funded colleges and universities would be required, under the bill, to disclose information regarding a student’s citizenship records, if requested by the local, state or federal government.

If the bill becomes law and a campus violated it, the State Budget Agency is permitted to withhold state funds appropriated by the General Assembly to the institution.

“If Homeland Security, whether it was the federal homeland security or state, and they wanted to check on the immigration status of a particular student, the bill says the university would have to cooperate with authorities,” Young said.

Several institutions across the country have declared themselves sanctuary campuses. No Indiana colleges or universities have done so, but students at Notre Dame, Indiana University and Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis  are asking their administrations to change that.

In November 2016, students at IUPUI delivered a petition to the university’s chancellor asking that the school consider becoming a sanctuary campus, but the request was denied.

Democratic lawmakers don’t agree with Young’s bill.

Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said the language of the bill does not protect students, but rather threatens them.

“This is not even a bill the universities brought to the attention of this body to help protect the students, which we should all find very interesting,” he said. “If it’s such a good bill, and it’s so protective of the students on university campuses in the state of Indiana, why didn’t the universities come to us and ask us to support it.”

Similarly, Anderson Democratic Sen. Tim Lanane said the sanctuary campus bill could harm the state’s reputation.

“When we pass these bills, these become symbolic to people,” Lanane said. “We may not belong to that demographic in this room, but to certain people, this is a symbol of division, oppression, discrimination and hate. I don’t want to send that message.”

Despite debate between Young and Democratic senators, the bill passed 35-15, and will be considered by the House.

Shelby Mullis is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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