INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked parts of an Indiana immigration law cracking down on illegal immigrants, in a ruling handed down a week before the bill was to go into effect.
The preliminary injunction granted by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker comes as a blow to lawmakers in the Republican-dominated state legislature who this year have taken a get-tough approach to immigration.
Barker’s decision was in response to a lawsuit filed with backing from the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and the National Immigration Law Center.
The judge’s decision temporarily blocks a provision of the state law signed in May and scheduled to take effect July 1 that allows state and local police to arrest anyone ordered deported by an immigration court.
Barker faulted the Indiana bill for not requiring the arrested person be brought before a judge for potential release. She noted that under federal law, a foreign national can seek to overturn an immigration judge’s removal order and be freed on bond.
The judge also blocked a section of the law that would prohibit any person in the state, other than a police officer, from knowingly accepting or offering a consular ID card as a valid form of identification.
Barker said in her judgment that states such as Indiana have sought to enact immigration laws that do not run afoul of federal powers.
“Unfortunately, insofar as Indiana’s efforts to carve out such a permissible role, at least with regard to the two sections of the statute under review here, their results have proven to be seriously flawed and generally unsuccessful,” Barker wrote in her judgment.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said in a statement the ruling represented “an indictment of the federal government” for failing to “enact and enforce immigration policy.”
“It underscores the challenge to Indiana and other state lawmakers who have tried to respond to Washington’s failure,” Zoeller said.
A spokeswoman for Mitch Daniels, the state’s Republican governor, said the governor’s office would not issue comment Friday on the ruling.
Several U.S. states have this year passed legislation cracking down on illegal immigration, inspired by Arizona, where Republican governor Jan Brewer signed a law in April 2010 including a measure requiring police to determine the immigration status of those they have detained and suspect are in the country illegally.
Key parts of that law were blocked by a federal judge, after the Obama administration successfully sued arguing that it improperly infringed on federal powers. The ruling was upheld by an appeals court, although Arizona is taking its challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Utah and Georgia have also faced legal challenges to their state laws passed this year, while Alabama and South Carolina, which passed measures in June, are also likely to face legal challenges.
Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis and Tim Gaynor: Editing by Peter Bohan