By Andi TenBarge
INDIANAPOLIS — A Senate study committee Tuesday started their six-month long look into the impact of costs and benefits of immigration to Indiana.
“We not only have a right to know who is in our country, and for what purpose, we have a duty to know, to protect ourselves, our families and our neighbors from the next event,” Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, said in his opening remarks.
Kansas Secertary of State Kris Kobach advises special immigration commitee on how they should stregthen Indiana immigration laws. Photo by Andi TenBarge, TheStatehouseFile.com.
Delph, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Select Commission on Immigration Issues, started the meeting by saying the committee will use the terms “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien” to describe individuals who were in the states unlawfully. He said these terms were considered legal terms and therefore should be used while discussing the issue.
“Should we call drug dealers undocumented pharmacists?” Delph asked. “We set a poor example by not holding lawbreakers accountable.”
The committee turned to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for advice on how to strengthen Indiana’s immigration laws. Kobach said the state should enact measures to require proof of citizenship when registering to vote and require all businesses to use E-Verify, a system that checks citizenship status for all employees.
Dale Wilcox, a spokesperson with the Immigration Reform Law Institute, agreed with Kobach and said Indiana needs to take action where the federal government has failed to do so.
“The American public is demanding that government at all levels take the necessary steps to protect American jobs and taxpayers from a burden placed upon them by years of inconsistent and often lax immigration enforcement,” Wilcox said.
Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, listens to advice from Kobach about how streghten Indiana immigration laws. Kobach said Indiana should implent measure that prevent sanctuary counties and cities, require all businesses to use E-Verify systems for employees, and require proof of citizenship to register to vote. Photo by Andi TenBarge, TheStatehouseFile.com.
Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, said he did not understand why Republicans wanted to add new regulations to Indiana businesses. He was skeptical as to whether the business, especially agriculture businesses, could survive if Indiana strengthened its immigration laws.
“We’ve waited too long to do anything about immigration,” Mrvan said. “The economy would be just destroyed.”
The committee is set to meet five more times before the start of the 2016 legislative session. Some are concerned the discussion could end up biased, but Delph said he plans for the committee to do a fair and thorough review of Indiana’s immigration laws throughout the process.
Andi TenBarge is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.