INDIANAPOLIS The Indiana senate passed a sweeping immigration bill that echoes Arizona's tougher measures on illegal immigrants and despite opposition from some of the largest employers and business groups in the state.
The measure, passed on Tuesday night by a vote of 31-18, would allow state and local police to ask a person stopped for infractions like traffic violations for proof of legal residency if the officer has a "reasonable suspicion" they may be in the country illegally.
Another provision would call for, with some exceptions, the use of English only in public meetings, on Web sites and in documents.
The bill still needs to be adopted by state's House of Representatives, where opponents say they will now turn.
The vote "was a key step in the legislative process," the bill's author Sen. Mike Delph said in a statement, adding that the bill will "send a clear message that Indiana will no longer be a sanctuary for people who are in our state and country illegally because of our federal government's failure to act on illegal immigration."
Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce officials say the measure would have a chilling effect on business, particularly convention business.
"It will have a negative economic impact on the state of Indiana," Chamber Public Policy Director Angela Smith-Jones said, adding that immigration issues should be handled on the federal level.
The Chamber feels it has a good chance of lobbying enough House members to block the bill, Smith-Jones said.
(Reporting by Susan Guyett. Editing by Peter Bohan)