Mayor’s office: No plans to make Fort Wayne sanctuary city

Fort Wayne is home to some 5,000 Burmese refugees

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The city of Fort Wayne has no plans to become a immigrant-friendly Sanctuary City, an official confirmed.

City spokesman John Perlich told NewsChannel 15 that any process to make Fort Wayne a Sanctuary City would require open dialogue, public input and approval by City Council and the Mayor’s Office. Perlich said despite the city taking a few inquiries from residents, such a discussion has not occurred in the community.

The question arose as President Donald Trump, in his push to crack down on illegal immigration, threatened to withdraw federal funding from sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Sanctuary cities protect unauthorized immigrants from federal prosecution and grant them access to city services. Cities in 20 states currently have Sanctuary City status, though none in Indiana do.

Even without a designation, Perlich said Fort Wayne is welcoming to outsiders.

“Fort Wayne has been and continues to be an inviting and welcoming City,” said Perlich. “We’re proud to be a leader in refugee and immigration efforts, most notably with our Burmese population. Fort Wayne is home to immigrants from all over the world who are making a meaningful difference in our community and region.”

Fort Wayne has been a leader in refugee resettlement, beginning in the early 1990s when hundreds were welcomed from Burma. In the late 2000s, then, the city took in 1,500 more Burmese refugees. Today, some 5,000 Burmese call Fort Wayne home.