A bill on illegal immigration issues is scheduled to come before the Senate this afternoon. The legislation, which proposes measures similar to those enacted in Arizona last year, would increase penalties for business owners who hire illegal immigrants, require law enforcement officers to verify the citizenship status of individuals if there is “reasonable suspicion” they’re are here illegally, and require all governmental documents, meetings and employees to use English. Gustavo Escalante is the manager of the Hispanic Business Council, a department of the greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. Escalante says he’s concerned the bill will make it even more difficult for Hispanic entrepreneurs to keep up with taxes and will discourage economic growth in the community.
“It’s going to be really hard, then, for businesses to find out who is really legal or not,” said Escalante. “I think the repercussions are going to be way beyond what people think about it. The way we’re going to be looking out there for the rest of the world is going to be more like ‘Do not do business here in Indiana.’”
The Hispanic business community isn’t the only group worried about the bill. The Alliance for Immigration Reform in Indiana is a collective of business, faith-based, and social services leaders. A spokesperson for the group says immigration reform should be handled by the federal government, not individual states.
Meanwhile, Evansville Representative Suzanne Crouch, who introduced the bill, says the measure will simply bring the state into compliance with a law from the 80s, requiring documents to be printed in English.