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Federal judge dismisses suit targetting Indiana immigration law

Updated: August 14, 2013 7:51PM



A federal judge has tossed a lawsuit by an East Chicago group aimed against Indiana’s immigration law, but the case could be refiled.

U.S. District Judge Jon DeGuilio dismissed the case Tuesday, saying in his ruling that Union Benefica Mexicana had failed to show that any of the named defendants — including then-Gov. Mitch Daniels, the Indiana attorney general, and Lake, Porter and LaPorte county prosecutors and sheriffs — played a strong enough part in enforcing the law.

State officials can only be sued by private parties if they are found to enforce a law that violates federal law.

The order didn’t rule on whether the state law, which allows the state to take civil actions against businesses that hire illegal immigrants and requires day laborers to fill out employment authorization cards, violates federal law.

Instead, it just said that the plaintiff, Union Benefica Mexicana, which works with Hispanics in Northwest Indiana, had not proven the named defendants could be held responsible for the law.

DeGuilio instead wrote in the ruling that the Indiana Department of Workforce Development is the clear overseer of the new laws and that a lawsuit could be brought against that department and the Indiana Department of Labor. He gave UBM the right refile the lawsuit.

The not-for-profit group filed the suit originally in December 2011 after Indiana passed the state immigration law, which also gave law enforcement certain rights in dealing with people they suspected to be illegal immigrants.

That portion of the law was essentially rendered moot after the U.S. Supreme Court found against the state of Arizona over a similar law.

However, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said shortly after that order was issued last summer that he would continue to defend the portions of Indiana’s laws dealing with businesses.

UBM had asked Judge DeGuilio to issue an injunction against that portion of the law.



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