Mitch Daniels is weak on Indiana immigration bill, apparently only supports least effective parts

COVID-19 Response

Like everyone else, we urge you to wash your hands and engage in social distancing.

Unlike everyone else, we urge you to also help with this smart plan to get more tests, ventilators, and PPE. Everyone can do that plan right now, at home, in just 15 minutes.

If enough people help with the plan we can save lives. Take time out now and help get more desperately-needed supplies.

Indiana state Senator Mike Delph is trying to pass an Arizona-style immigration bill in that state [1]. In an interview [2], Indiana governor Mitch Daniels opposes the part of the bill that would allow police to ask about someone's immigration status during a "lawful stop, detention, or arrest".

While it's not exactly clear what specific parts of the bill Daniels opposes and supports [3], he appears to oppose the other law enforcement-related parts of the bill. Those would allow police who have someone in custody to check their immigration status with the Department of Homeland Security. And, all of this takes place as Daniels is pondering running for president (link), even being urged to do so by Joe Klein (someone who explicitly supports illegal immigration).

The only part of the bill that he supports in the interview is that dealing with sanctions on those who knowingly hire illegal aliens. Yet, getting a conviction for that is a very high bar to clear and happens only rarely. Companies know how to play games: claim that the documents they were presented looked valid, or use subcontractors, or simply litigate the matter endlessly. Through August of 2006, there were just 177 convictions in the entire U.S. for knowingly hiring illegal aliens [4]. Whatever the current number is, it can't be that high. Obviously, it should be higher and the Department of Homeland Security should be aggressively conducting sting operations and trying to catch big employers. But, neither the Obama administration nor Daniels would support that.

Daniels uses two excuses to oppose the law enforcement parts of the bill: it wouldn't make sense to turn illegal aliens over to the feds if "the feds were going to turn [illegal aliens picked up by local law enforcement] loose anyway" and his claim that he was told only a few local law enforcement officers have the necessary training to deal with immigration issues.

Both of those concerns are bogus: if the feds won't accept illegal aliens then Daniels can publicly call them out, urge Indiana's Congressional delegation to get more funding, and perhaps even see about charging the feds for detaining illegal aliens.

And, as of 2006, the feds were only charging $520 for a five-week 287g training program. As of 2007, that training program was only receiving funding of $5 million (Lou Dobbs report: ). If Daniels were serious and weren't simply trying to placate pro-illegal immigration groups and corrupt businesses, he'd call to raise that limit. Further, it doesn't take much training to send the personal information of someone in custody to the feds to be checked for immigration violations; see Secure Communities.

[1] A summary of the bill from the author is here. Note that it also has provisions relating to eVerify, sanctuary cities, Matricula Consular cards, and conducting meetings in English. Whether Daniels supports or opposes those isn't clear, but it's likely he opposes them because they wouldn't be "good for business" if you know what I mean.

[2] The interview is here:

"I think that legislation will be changed," Daniels said in a wide-ranging interview with The Indianapolis Star Editorial Board. "I support this, to drop the law enforcement provisions that have been the ones that have bothered most people."

Surviving in the bill, he said, would be provisions aimed at employers who knowingly hire people who have come to the United States illegally.

"The idea I like is to deny them the tax deduction if they're caught doing it," Daniels said. "It's a fairly clean way to get at it, and really employment is the magnet that leads to the illegality."

Sen. Mike Delph, the Carmel Republican who authored Senate Bill 590, said, though, that some law enforcement provisions will remain under the proposed amendments. Police could arrest someone based on their immigration status, he said, if there is probable cause to think the person already has been ordered to be removed or detained by federal officials, has been indicted or convicted of an aggravated felony or willfully failed to register with the federal government as required.

That, he said, would focus the bill "on the ones we consider to be the really bad actors."

...The problem with the bill's initial provisions, which allowed police to check someone's immigration status if they had reasonable suspicion that they were here illegally, is that "it wouldn't work," Daniels said.

"We don't tend to believe in things that are policies that are emotionally satisfying to somebody but don't have any practical effect."

Daniels said Indiana State Police and others in law enforcement told him that because of training requirements, only a handful of Indiana police would be able to deal with immigration issues.

"If they accidentally caught somebody who was breaking the immigration law, the feds were going to turn them loose anyway," he said.

Focusing on employment instead of law enforcement eliminates the concerns -- "valid or not" -- that the bill would lead to racial profiling and people being targeted because of how they look and sound...

[3] The author of the linked article, Mary Beth Schneider of the Indianapolis Star, didn't respond to the three tweets and one voicemail I sent her seeking specific information on what Daniels supports.

[4] See the table here. I was unable to locate more up to date statistics, but if anyone has them please leave a comment.