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Indiana Republicans seek to legally enforce ban on sanctuary cities

A reflection of the Statehouse dome in a bank of windows across the street.
FILE PHOTO: Justin Hicks
IPB News
The Indiana Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit involving Indiana's ban on sanctuary cities, ruling private citizens couldn't prove they had standing to sue.

Republicans want to make Indiana’s law banning sanctuary cities enforceable with a bill headed to the House floor.

SB 181 is a response to an Indiana Supreme Court decision from 2022.

Indiana’s sanctuary cities law banned local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

A Gary “welcoming ordinance” approved in 2017 limited the city’s ability to investigate a person’s immigration status and to assist the federal government in enforcing immigration laws.

A small group of citizens sued. But the Indiana Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit, ruling that the citizens couldn’t show any injury from the ordinance.

READ MORE: How do I follow Indiana’s legislative session? Here’s your guide to demystify the process

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Sen. Eric Koch’s (R-Bedford) bill seeks to get around that ruling.

“It gives the attorney general standing to bring an enforcement action against a sanctuary city ordinance,” Koch said.

The bill cleared a House committee 7-2, with Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany) joining Rep. Maureen Bauer (D-South Bend) in opposition.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.