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Washington – This week, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock announced his plans to run against Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) for the Republican nomination in the 2012 Senate race. Despite his great “respect” for Senator Lugar, Mourdock cites a litany of “reasons” he has chosen to challenge the long-time senator. A number of them include Senator Lugar’s attempts to forge bipartisan consensus and get things done. Near the top of his list, according to Mourdock, is Lugar’s work on the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow the children of undocumented immigrants to earn legal status if they graduate from high school and enroll in college or the U.S. military.
“It’s bizarre that Mourdock would challenge Senator Lugar for being too ‘bipartisan’ and attempting to get things done in Washington,” said Lynn Tramonte, Deputy Director of America’s Voice. “It’s also deeply disturbing that he would single out Senator Lugar’s work on the DREAM Act as a ‘reason’ to challenge him. When is it ever a bad thing to allow bright and talented young people to enroll in college or serve in the military, in the only country they know as home?”
When it comes to immigration, Mourdock is practicing tired old wedge politics, in sharp contrast to the Indiana leaders who have rallied around common sense approaches like those embraced by Senator Lugar. Recently, leaders such as the Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, Indiana attorney general Greg Zoeller, President of Marian University, mayors, and members of the business community endorsed the Indiana Compact as a pragmatic, solutions-oriented approach to the problem of illegal immigration. The principles of the Compact stress the need for federal action on common sense immigration reforms that respect the rule of law, promote family unity, and strengthen the economy—principles that are in line with Senator Lugar’s work on behalf of the DREAM Act.
The Indiana Compact was developed in response to a more divisive battle raging in the Indiana state house, where a faction of state lawmakers is hoping to bring an Arizona-style anti-immigration law to the Hoosier state. As is true in other states where Arizona-style laws are being considered, Indiana’s SB 590 is drawing strong opposition from various facets of society. Roland Dorson, President of the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, noted the potential economic damage of SB 590, saying, “We don’t want to become Arizona, where there is empirical evidence that they have suffered from passage of that law…We don’t want to hang out a shingle that says, ‘No entry.’ This is two steps backward.” Leading Indiana agricultural figures, such as the head of the Indiana Farm Bureau, have also expressed opposition to SB 590 and fear its effects on the agricultural industry in the state. And, according to the Indianapolis Star, “Eli Lilly and Co., Cummins and some other major Indiana businesses have expressed worry that it would hinder economic development.” With a combined market cap of $62 billion, Eli Lilly and Cummins have expressed specific worry that their “ability to recruit and retain” a competitive workforce will suffer and that “these jobs will simply go elsewhere” if the new Arizona copy-cat law is enacted.
“The immigration debate in Indiana illustrates the two choices policymakers face today. They can either engage in divisive wedge politics and continue to block progress on common sense immigration reform, or they can roll up their sleeves and work on a bipartisan basis to advance real, pragmatic immigration solutions. Smart policymakers will stand with the mayors, business leaders, and other pillars of society who are tired of the rhetoric, tired of politics as usual, and are demanding action on real, comprehensive immigration reform,” Tramonte concluded.
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