Indiana’s Proposed Immigration Crackdown Draws Fire

Carrie Ritchie and John Tuohy, Indianapolis Star, March 2, 2011

Indiana’s proposed immigration law–which would be one of the toughest such laws in the nation–took hits Tuesday on two fronts.

Calling Senate Bill 590 a waste of resources, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry announced that he had joined about 2,600 people in signing a petition to encourage state lawmakers to leave immigration reform to the federal government.

Blow two? The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, which also opposes the bill, acknowledged that one convention scheduled for Indianapolis this summer has said it will pull out if the bill passes and that a second said it would no longer hold conventions in Indiana if the bill becomes law.

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Various education, business and religious leaders were relatively quick to sign the Indiana Compact, which will be shown to lawmakers.

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Supporters stress the strain illegal immigrants have put on public services such as schools, medical care and social services. Others argue they provide a cheaper labor source that undercuts Hoosier workers at a time of high unemployment.

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The bill has already passed the Senate and is awaiting action in the House.

If it does pass, the city’s convention association said that it has been told by executives of the Presbyterian Church’s Bi-Annual Conference–scheduled to meet in Indianapolis this July–that they would not hold their conference here.

The Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association has “a growing concern” that the legislation will damage the local tourism industry, said spokesman Chris Gahl.

Jerry Powell, president of Resource Recycling, based in Portland, Ore., runs multiple conferences a year, including one scheduled in Indianapolis in August.

He said he couldn’t pull the conference out of Indianapolis this summer because of legal and financial obligations with the JW Marriott, but he said that he would never hold another conference in Indiana again if the immigration bill passes.

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