The city of Gary is being sued over an ordinance that declares it a “welcoming city” for immigrants, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by the anti-immigration group Immigration Reform Law Institute and conservative Terre Haute attorney Jim Bopp.
The Gary ordinance limits local compliance with federal immigration enforcement. For example, it prohibits local law enforcement from assisting federal immigration agents with requests to detain people.
That violates the Indiana law that bans “sanctuary cities,” the lawsuit alleges, and calls for cooperation with federal immigration enforcement to the “full extent permitted by federal law.”
“This is just turning criminals loose in Gary,” Bopp told IndyStar. “Who should want to do that? And the state of Indiana has made it perfectly clear that that’s unlawful.”
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the city believes its ordinance is in line with state law and called the lawsuit a “political ploy designed to further a misdirected political agenda.”
The “welcoming city” ordinance says it aims to help immigrants feel safe reporting crimes. It says the city supports immigration enforcement as a federal matter and wants to ensure people are “treated equally regardless of their immigration status.”
Among its provisions, the ordinance calls for the city to not participate in any federal registries based on race, color, ancestry, national origin or religion.
Noting that arrest increases the risk of deportation, the ordinance says Gary police will “consider the extreme potential negative consequences of an arrest” and “will arrest an individual only after determining that less severe alternatives are unavailable.”
But the lawsuit argues that the ordinance effectively restricts communication and cooperation with federal officials.
It takes issue with sections such as ordering local law enforcement to not aid in an immigration investigation unless ordered by a court, or not ask about a person’s citizenship or immigration status.
The lawsuit claims the ordinance adds stricter standards to immigration policy than federal law requires — which means that the local law doesn’t abide by state law’s demand to fully cooperate.
But other cities also don’t comply with ICE detainers.
Earlier this year, in response to a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, the city of Indianapolis agreed to end the practice of holding people in jail without probable cause on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
An ICE detainer is a request of local police to hold people in jail beyond the time when they otherwise should be released — generally a 48-hour period — so the immigration agency can take them into custody. The requests are not signed by a judge and do not require probable cause that a possible illegal immigrant has committed a crime.
Supporters of ICE detainers say local cooperation helps detain and deport immigrants who are illegally residing in the U.S. But the ACLU of Indiana argued that ICE detainers violate constitutional rights.
Emma Mahern, an Indianapolis immigration attorney, said the Marion County case determined that the rights of immigrants should be protected.
“Private citizens who are suing Gary are going to come up against the fact that there is a Fifth Amendment issue with detaining immigrants without a warrant,” she said.
In February, Democrat Mayor Joe Hogsett declared Indianapolis a “welcoming city” but stopped short of implementing any new policies on immigration.
The federal government under President Donald Trump has pledged to crack down on illegal immigration and crimes perpetrated by people living in the country illegally.
December 7, 2017 | IndyStar | Link to Article