Indianapolis News and Headlines


In Indiana, no 'sanctuary cities' thanks to 2011 law

Posted at 5:50 PM, Jan 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-27 16:14:29-05

INDIANAPOLIS -- President Donald Trump has taken a tough stance on illegal immigration, saying he'll take away federal funding from American cities like Boston, Miami and San Francisco that consider themselves "sanctuary cities."

"Sanctuary cities," or "safe harbors," are those cities that have said they will not go after undocumented immigrants unless they are arrested for criminal behavior.

A number of mayors across the country have spoken out, saying they won't comply with any mass deportation effort from the Trump administration.

In Indiana, though, this particular issue is a moot point: The General Assembly passed rules in 2011 that prohibit any Hoosier town or city from limiting or restricting immigration officers from doing their jobs.

It's hard to know exactly how many undocumented immigrants there are in Indiana who might be affected. Estimates range from around 85,000 on the low end, according to the National Immigration Forum, up to 110,000, based on analysis by the Pew Research Center.

LOCAL IMPACT | Indiana immigrants worried about their future under Trump's presidency

A report produced last year by the Indiana Senate Select Committee on Immigration Issues by Robert Warren, the former director of the statistics division of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, estimated there are about 106,300 undocumented immigrants living in Indiana.

Of those, Warren estimated that a little more than 43,000 live in the Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) – about 2 percent of its total population. Another 9,400 are estimated to live in the Elkhart-Goshen area, with around 8,700 living in or near Fort Wayne.

In Indianapolis proper, data from the latest Census in 2010 showed that roughly 8 percent of the city's population was born outside of the United States. Of those residents – numbering a little more than 80,000 – about 22,000 have become naturalized U.S. citizens. The remaining 58,000 residents could be international students or immigrants here on temporary work visas – but Census data doesn't specify that.

While the sanctuary city issue might be passing over Indianapolis, other potential immigration-focused executive orders from the Trump Administration drew a response Thursday from Exodus Refugee Immigration, which found itself at the forefront of a previous battle with now-Vice President Mike Pence over the federal Syrian refugee resettlement program.

READ MORE | Trump to end refugee program, visas from Muslim-majority countries

“We are deeply troubled that during one of the worst refugee crises the world has ever seen, our new president is asking us to deny refuge to tens of thousands of people on the basis of religion and nationality,” said Cole Varga, Exodus executive director.

On Wednesday, the Associated Press obtained a draft order from the White House showing Trump intends to stop accepting Syrian refugees and to suspend the United States' broader refugee program for 120 days.

The order parallels promises he made on the campaign trail to limit the flow of refugees from Middle Eastern countries he linked to terrorism.