Immigration Law Draws Questions From Latino Community

By John W. Davis

June 16, 2011 Updated Jun 16, 2011 at 10:37 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - "Pray for sunshine, prepare for rain." That was the message at an Indiana Immigration Law Forum, aimed at answers questions being raised in Fort Wayne's Latino community.

State lawmakers said the new state law that goes into effect July 1, mirrors federal law, in that if a person is arrested with probable cause for a felony, then their immigration status will become an issue.

However, panel members like Immigration Lawyer Rosy Meza believe the law is impractical.

Meza told Indiana's NewsCenter that "it is an unprecedented law that will be quite restrictive to their (Latinos) daily lives."

Others believed that the law allows police to come up with any excuse to arrest people because they look like an illegal immigrant.

Opponents said they felt like the general Hispanic population was being unfairly targeted.

However, lawmakers said the law was written specifically to avoid racial profiling and the law follows federal law, which is constitutional.

Meanwhile, nearly 300 community members asked dozens of questions Thursday night.

One point of contention, "Are identification cards issued by foreign consulates a valid form of identification?"

According to the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, the answer is "No, identification (other than a passport) issued by a foreign government is not a valid form of identification, except when presenting to an officer during the investigation of a crime."

Meza told Indiana's NewsCenter "consular identification cards" are used often in financial transactions at grocery stores and banks.

She questioned what type of identification with immigrants use after July 1.

Meza also suggested, the new law will end up having a negative impact on Indiana's economy.

"Who is going to take over the work of those workers, who work very long hours, have wonderful work ethic, for very little money," said Immigration Lawyer Rosy Meza.

"Those jobs are going to be exported or they're going to continue to exported where... to China or India," explained Meza.

Meanwhile, a few community members seemed "okay" with law.

They stoop up and told the audience, don't make yourself a target, don't do anything to get yourself arrested, and you will not have any problems.

Others still unconvinced, believe the new law will simply be difficult to follow.

The forum was sponsored by The Hispanic Leadership Coalition of Northeast Indiana.

It was held at Saint Joseph Catholic Church on Brooklyn Avenue in Fort Wayne.




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