Indiana Attorney General Files Suit Against East Chicago Common Council Over Immigration Ordinance

Written from court document

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – July 9, 2024

The State of Indiana, represented by Attorney General Todd Rokita, has filed a lawsuit against the City of East Chicago Common Council, seeking to compel compliance with state laws regarding the enforcement of federal immigration laws. The complaint, filed in the Lake Circuit/Superior Court, alleges that the City of East Chicago’s ordinance restricts local enforcement of federal immigration laws, in violation of Indiana Code.

According to the complaint, the City of East Chicago Common Council’s ordinance, enacted in 2017, imposes various restrictions on city agents and agencies concerning the investigation and cooperation with federal officials on matters of citizenship and immigration status. The ordinance, codified as East Chicago City Code Title III, Chapter 39, includes provisions that prohibit city employees from assisting in federal immigration enforcement, communicating with federal agencies, and detaining individuals based solely on immigration status.

Attorney General Rokita asserts that these restrictions are in direct violation of Indiana Code §§ 5-2-18.2-3 and 5-2-18.2-4, which prohibit local governments from enacting ordinances that limit the enforcement of federal immigration laws or restrict communication and cooperation with federal immigration authorities.

“By maintaining this ordinance, the City of East Chicago Common Council has violated state law and undermined the sovereignty of Indiana,” said Attorney General Rokita. “This lawsuit seeks to ensure that local governments comply with state mandates and fully support the enforcement of federal immigration laws.”

The complaint details several key provisions of the ordinance that Attorney General Rokita deems unlawful, including:

Prohibiting city agents from requesting or investigating citizenship or immigration status.
Restricting the detention of individuals based on immigration detainers or administrative warrants.
Limiting cooperation with federal immigration enforcement operations and information sharing.

Despite a warning letter sent by Attorney General Rokita on May 14, 2024, demanding the repeal of the ordinance, the City of East Chicago Common Council has not taken action to repeal the ordinance or respond to the Attorney General’s letter.

The State of Indiana seeks an injunction to prevent the City of East Chicago from continuing to enforce the ordinance and to compel compliance with Indiana Code. The Attorney General’s office argues that the ordinance knowingly and intentionally violates state law, necessitating judicial intervention to uphold state statutes.

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