Gary, Ind., is the newest front in the sanctuary city battle

Gary, Ind., is the newest front in the sanctuary city battle
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The hot-button issue of immigration is one with many complex parts. Border security, chain migration and amnesty come to mind. Sanctuary cities, however, is the part that most impacts citizens on a local level and presents the biggest challenge to the rule of law. That challenge is now being accepted on a new front.

Attorneys from the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) and the Bopp Law Firm are today filing suit against the city of Gary, its mayor and city council members in Indiana’s Lake County Superior Court. At issue is Gary’s ordinance 9100, which proclaims the community 25 miles southeast of Chicago to be a “welcoming city.” It is the first legal action of its kind brought against a city for its refusal to comply with immigration laws.

“Welcoming city” is a politically correct term for saying that Gary forbids its law enforcement personnel from cooperating with federal immigration officials in the processing of illegal immigrants. Gary’s ordinance is not only in violation of federal law but, pertinent to this case, is also in contempt of the State of Indiana’s chapter 18.2 provision, which specifically bans sanctuary city or welcoming city ordinances.

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Beyond the interests of political expediency, identity politics and open borders lawlessness, the house of the sanctuary cities argument is built on sand. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Williams defended sanctuary cities in an interview by stating that “Gary welcomes all individuals who are legal and want to be law-abiding citizens.” Even if illegal aliens do not commit felonies once in an American city, their very presence there is a commission of an illegal act. This is no mere legal technicality. For all the rhetoric about immigration enforcement being little more than thinly veiled xenophobia, the reality is that sanctuary cities present an existential threat to residents of those communities and all Americans.

 

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimates, roughly 2.1 million criminal aliens are living in the U.S., over 1.9 million of which are removable. Beyond the statistics, lives are permanently, tragically changed when this behavior is encouraged. Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, who was found not guilty of murdering Kate Steinle despite admitting to shooting her, said that he moved to San Francisco after multiple deportations because he knew of the city’s lenient sanctuary city policies. When asked about the Steinle case, Freeman-Williams said, “That could happen with a legal resident just as easily as it could happen with an illegal resident. It’s an effort to criminalize illegal immigrants.” That tortured logic must be cold comfort to the parents of Steinle, Jamiel Shaw II and others whose children’s lives were snuffed out by murderers who should never have been here in the first place.

In addition to violating state and federal laws, sanctuary cities serve only to breed chaos and unfairness. If the very premise of sanctuary cities is accepted, what is to stop mayors and governors from arbitrarily deciding which other laws they choose not to follow? Open borders advocates may have a very different attitude on communities that would declare themselves sanctuary cities on laws governing firearms, reproductive rights or bathroom access.

While sanctuary city leaders speak of fairness and compassion for illegal aliens, lost in the debate is the concern for the rights of aspiring citizens who choose to comply with our immigration laws. Where is the incentive for new arrivals to follow the law when the law is not enforced? It is inherently unjust to those who follow the law when others flagrantly break it and are rewarded. A permissive attitude toward illegal immigrants will only promote more illegal immigration, and all the undesirable consequences for education, social services, employment and national security that come with it.

The case against Gary represents the first real salvo against blatant disregard for our laws, safety and sovereignty. Thanks to the spreading, toxic ideology of sanctuary cities, many more will be required.

Brian Lonergan is director of communications at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of mass migration.