INDIANAPOLIS – At the same time the Department of Homeland Security announced new deportation rules, lawmakers at the Indiana Statehouse were debating a move that would prevent state-funded colleges and universities from becoming sanctuary campuses.
“There are people who want to change the way the university campuses operate,” State Sen. R. Michael Young (R-Indianapolis) said who authored the bill. “They want them not to follow the law.”
Young pointed to recent protests, like at IU Bloomington, pushing for sanctuary campus status to protect undocumented students from the threat of deportation and potentially blocking federal immigration officials from enforcing federal law.
“What kind of system do we want where we have people that come in and tell our institutions that you have to break the law?” Young said. “We don’t want that. It would be chaos.”
Opponents though argued the provision isn’t needed.
“This bill will create many more protests on Indiana’s campuses,” Alex Lichtenstein said, a professor at IU Bloomington and representing the American Association of University Professors.
Jeff Linder, associate vice president for government relations at IU, said the university “does not and will not have sanctuary campuses,” reassuring lawmakers IU would always comply with federal law, despite the protests of some of its students and faculty.
Supporters said the measure adds an extra layer of security.
“What kind of system is that where we tell our government entities, or even tell our employees you cannot talk to the Department of Homeland Security and then three days later a building is bombed.”
Opponents quickly responded.
“You’ll bring this stuff up and talk about bombing of buildings,” State Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said. “You talk about people attacking other people. Well it’s happening.”
The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law committee passed the measure 6-2. The bill now heads to the full Senate for debate.