An influential conservative lawyer is suing a northwestern Indiana city for allegedly violating the state’s ban on so-called sanctuary cities with its “welcoming city” ordinance approved earlier this year.
Terre Haute-based attorney James Bopp Jr. filed the lawsuit against Gary in Lake County on Tuesday, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.
The ordinance, which was approved by the city in May, was designed to provide some protection for residents of Gary who are living in the country illegally. It prohibits requesting or investigating the legal status of an individual unless required by a court order.
The lawsuit argues that the ordinance violates a 2011 Indiana law that bars local governments and their employees from refusing to communicate or cooperate with federal immigration authorities investigating people who entered or remained in the United States without legal permission.
Democratic Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who enacted the ordinance, said the city believes its ordinance fully complies with the state’s law. She called Bopp’s lawsuit a “ploy designed to further a misdirected political agenda.”
“We look forward to vigorously defending this lawsuit,” Freeman-Wilson said. “Gary, Indiana, has always provided leadership in Northwest Indiana in ensuring equal opportunity for all. This ordinance is no different.”
However, some Gary Common Council members said they’re willing to consider repealing the ordinance.
Councilman Herb Smith told fellow council members Tuesday that he wanted to revisit the ordinance. He also said that he has spoken with attorneys, who said the ordinance appears to clearly be in violation of Indiana law.
“If we have to defend it maybe we want to consider repealing it,” Smith said.
Smith said he plans to bring up the issue at the Dec. 19 council meeting.