Judge: Indiana senators can't defend immigration law

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A federal judge has rebuffed three Indiana lawmakers who asked to be allowed to step into a legal dispute over the state's immigration law after the attorney general declined to defend it.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker ruled Friday that allowing the senators to intervene would give legislators a trump card over the powers granted to the attorney general by the state Constitution.

The lawmakers said the attorney general effectively nullified their votes when he opted not to defend sections of a 2011 Indiana immigration law Barker had barred from taking effect.

The attorney general's office said in July it would recommend that Barker strike down most of the portions of the Indiana law that enable police to make warrantless arrests based on certain common immigration documents.

States took note after the US Supreme Court struck down key parts of Arizona's controversial immigration law last year.

The court struck down a requirement that all immigrants obtain or carry immigration registration papers. The justices also ruled a provision making it a criminal offense for an illegal immigrant to seek work or hold a job, is illegal. They also ruled it's illegal for police to arrest suspected illegal immigrants without warrants.

A controversial part of Arizona's law is also part of the law here in Indiana. It allows police to question someone's immigration status after they've stopped them for another reason and suspect they may be here illegally.

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