COA to hear argument in Gary sanctuary city lawsuit

A Gary ordinance intended to welcome residents regardless of immigration status has caused a legal stir in the community and is headed to the Indiana Court of Appeals for review next week.

Oral arguments will take place at 1 p.m. on Sept. 13 in the Indiana Supreme Court courtroom for the case of City of Gary v. Jeff Nicholson, et al. and State of Indiana, 20A-MI-2317.

Judges Edward Najam, Patricia Riley and Elaine Brown will preside over the case.

Passed by the city’s common council on a 6-to-3 vote and signed by Freeman-Wilson in May 2017, the City of Gary’s welcoming ordinance prohibits city officials from requesting information or otherwise investigating or assisting in the investigation of the citizenship or immigration status of someone unless required by court order.

It also bars officials from stopping, arresting, detaining, or continuing to detain a person after that person becomes eligible for release from custody or is free to leave an encounter with an official.

Appellees Jeff Nicholson, Douglas Grimes, Greg Serbon, and Cheree Calabro  sued the city in Dec. 2017, arguing four provisions of the ordinance violates Indiana Code 5-2-18.2. Specifically, that it violates the Citizenship and Immigration Status law passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 2011 and amended in 2017.

Opponents to the ordinance allege that Chapter 18.2 “preempts the immigration-law field and bans what Gary” purports to do in those provisions of the ordinance.

The appellees are seeking injunctive relief and a declaratory judgment. For its part, the city contends the state law is narrower than the plaintiffs’ interpretation.

In ensuing proceedings to the Lake Superior Court, the state intervened, and the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment.  Following a hearing, the Lake Superior Court entered summary judgment for the appellees and an injunction against Gary.

The trial court’s injunction order prohibits Gary “from enforcing those provisions” of the ordinance “that are violative of” Indiana Chapter 5-2-18.2 “and/or other applicable state or federal law,’ prompting an appeal.

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