A Lake County judge struck down the city of Gary, Indiana’s sanctuary city ordinance that prevented local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration agents.

Gary’s “welcoming city” ordinance violated a 2011 state law banning sanctuary cities, according to a lawsuit filed in 2017 by attorney James Bopp Jr.

The state’s attorney general, Curtis Hill, concurred and submitted a 40-page brief to the court arguing that local ordinances cannot circumvent state law.

“Our nation’s immigration laws are designed to protect the public, including immigrants who have followed the proper processes to reside in our great country,” Hill said. “Authorities at the local, state and federal levels must cooperate with each other to enforce these measures. Policies that purposely hinder such collaboration not only violate Indiana law but also jeopardize Hoosiers’ safety.”

Judge Stephen Scheele sided with the state and ruled that the city of Gary is no longer allowed to enforce its sanctuary city policy.

Mayor Jerome Prince responded to the ruling and said he would evaluate next steps, “but one thing will not change: Gary will remain a welcoming city regardless of anyone’s immigration status, race, ethnicity and personal orientation.”

“In the City of Gary, we continue to welcome everyone who wants to build up our City through diversity and a commitment to our strong community values,” Prince continued. “Our ‘Welcoming Ordinance’ is a symbol of our stand against racist and anti-immigration policies.”

The Immigration Reform Law Institute, which represented the plaintiffs, applauded Scheele’s ruling as a “victory” for Gary’s residents and the rest of the state’s citizens.

“Sheltering illegal aliens from immigration authorities not only flagrantly violates duly-enacted Indiana law, but represents a serious public safety and national security risk,” Dale Wilcox, executive director and general counsel for IRLI, said in a statement. “When cities such as Gary insist on putting the interests of illegal aliens above those of their own citizenry, they have to be stopped, and we are pleased the court did just that yesterday.”

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