South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Monday said he that he didn’t know if he ran a sanctuary city but the police force doesn’t enforce federal immigration laws.
“I regard us as a welcoming city. Some conservative talk show host may say that makes us a sanctuary city. I don’t know,” he said during a town hall-style forum hosted by CNN in Manchester, New Hampshire.
He said South Bend welcomed all people regardless of whether they are in the country legally.
“The president thinks America is full. We’re not,” he said, adding that he supported a path to citizenship for the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S.
Mr. Buttigieg, who has surged into the top tier of the Democratic presidential candidates, said police in his Indiana town were too busy to deal with immigration enforcement.
“We make it very clear that our South Bend police department is not responsible for enforcing federal immigration policy,” he said.
Indiana does not permit sanctuary cities. South Bend does not qualify as a sanctuary according to criteria used by the Center for Immigration Studies, a low-immigration advocacy group.
Mr. Buttigieg also said that getting South Bend law enforcement agencies involved in immigration enforcement would hamper policing in communities with large immigrant populations. Residents there would be hesitant to report crimes or cooperate with investigations if they believe police are “conscripted” by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), he said.