Indiana UMs and SB 590: an Arizona-style immigration bill in Indiana?

by Jacob Juncker

I first heard about Indiana SB 590 at the Thursday morning Pastor’s Bible Study.  My heart sank when I heard that the Indiana legislature is considering an “Arizona-style” immigration bill.

Today, I received the below email from a colleague on The Social Advocacy, Justice and Ethnic Ministries Team of the Indiana Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.  I agree with the statement.  What are your thoughts on the bill (click here to read the bill in its entirety, 30 pg .PDF)? the Indiana Conference’s position (see below)? the United Methodist Church’s position (click here to learn more)?

When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. 34The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God (Lev. 19:33-34).’

The Indiana Annual Conference’s The Social Advocacy, Justice and Ethnic Ministries Team is urging your opposition to SB 590 which is currently being proposed to the Indiana General Assembly. SB 590 is an Arizona-style anti- immigration bill which calls for changes to the law concerning the enforcement of federal immigration laws, including:

  • checking the citizenship or immigration status of individuals; 
  • prohibiting the use of additional languages besides English, with certain exceptions, in electronic communications, public meetings and public documents; 
  • requiring law enforcement officers to verify the citizenship or immigration status of individuals and allowing them to arrest the person;
  • suspending or revoking business licenses of employers who knowingly employ undocumented workers.

The Annual Conference Team is opposed to SB 590 because it oversteps the authority of the State in the enforcement of Federal immigration law; places business owners and law enforcement officers in the impossible situations that would lead to racial profiling; and may foster a climate of fear and prejudice.

According to the 2008 Book of Resolutions, ‘The use of local law enforcement as immigration agents should be stopped….When local law enforcement officials engage in immigration enforcement, immigrants are often unwilling to report crimes and are forced to live in situations where they are exploited, abused and victimized. All nations have the right to secure their borders, but the primary concern for Christians should be the welfare of immigrants (#3281).’ In keeping with United Methodist Social Principles ‘we call upon governments and all employers to ensure for foreign workers the same economic, educational, and social benefits enjoyed by others citizens’ (¶ 163). 

You can contact your Indiana State Senator by mail: Indiana State Senate, 200 W. Washington Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204-2785; or by phone at (800) 382-9467. For email addresses, go to:  (Indiana General Assembly website ‘contact your legislator’).

Thoughts? Discussion?