Crusader Staff Report
A Lake County Superior Court judge on Monday, November 16 struck down Gary’s sanctuary city welcoming ordinance, ending a three-year legal battle.
The Crusader obtained a copy of the ruling after The Bopp Law Firm emailed a press release, declaring victory.
In May 2017, Gary passed the ordinance, joining cities across the country that sought to protect undocumented aliens as President Donald Trump allowed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to arrest and deport them back to their native countries.
In December, 2017, lawyers for The Bopp Law Firm and the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) filed a lawsuit against the city. They argued that the ordinance violates several Indiana statutes prohibiting governmental bodies in the state from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration law enforcement. The statutes, which IRLI had helped draft, require local jurisdictions to cooperate with such enforcement to the full extent contemplated in federal law.
In response to the lawsuit, Gary has enlisted the help of Georgetown law school’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, which filed a 54-page brief, seeking a summary judgment against the lawsuit. Lawyers for Gary argued that Bopp is misreading the ordinance and that the ordinance itself places no restrictions on federal immigration officials’ efforts to enforce immigration law. Therefore, the ordinance does not contravene state law, court documents say.
The argument eventually proved insufficient in court. Judge Stephen E. Scheele ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and prohibited Gary officials from enforcing its sanctuary ordinance.
“Indiana’s law banning sanctuary cities in Indiana clearly bans what the City of Gary and other Hoosier cities have done with so-called ‘Welcoming City’ ordinances,” said James Bopp, Jr. of The Bopp Law Firm. “We are pleased that, after extended litigation, the court has recognized the obvious fact that such ordinances are illegal in Indiana. There must be no more such ordinances in Indiana, and those in existence are clearly in violation of Indiana law.”
Lawyers against the ordinance argued that residents of Gary and other sanctuary cities are victimized by such unlawful non-cooperation policies. According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimates, roughly 2.1 million alien criminals are living in the U.S., over 1.9 million of whom are removable. Because of policies, like Gary’s, that prohibit state and local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration officials, alien criminals are able to stay in communities and commit more crimes.
“IRLI applauds the court’s decision,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI. “Sheltering illegal aliens from immigration authorities not only flagrantly violates duly-enacted Indiana law, but represents a serious public safety and national security risk. When cities such as Gary insist on putting the interests of illegal aliens above those of their own citizenry, they need to be stopped, and we are pleased the court did just that yesterday.”