"A mayor can't do much about immigration policy," wrote Pete Buttigieg in his memoir, Shortest Way Home: One Mayors Challenge and a Model for America's Future .
But in his two terms as mayor of South Bend, Buttigieg has found creative ways to navigate within local offices strictly to lead undocumented immigrants and their families in the city folds and run a city with a growing immigrant population under a president who has done deportation of millions of undocumented people, his signature issue.
In collaboration with local nonprofits, Buttigieg has established a "Community Resident Card" program to help undocumented South Bend residents open bank accounts and fill prescriptions, led "Know Your Rights" events for South Bends Latino residents heavy West Side to prepare them in the event of federal immigration operations, and even helped create a telephone booth to warn local families n about the event that ICE attacked the homes or corporate city dwellers.
"We, along with several other community organizations, are leading a process to arrive at our local response plan for rumors of or actual ICE raids in our area," Sam Centellas, CEO of La Casa de Amistad, told The Daily Beast. La Casa coordinated with representatives of Buttigigg's office to set up a list of the best people to contact during a federal immigration operation, Centellas said, and for advice on the best ways to communicate.
Genevieve Miller, vice president of human resources and policy director for Buttigig's mayor's office, described the effort for The Daily Beast as a collaboration with community groups "to identify community members who can be contacted if there is an immigration event."
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"Parents had taken their children from Harrison Primary Center and small shops were closing for the day," recalled Buttigieg Shortest Way Home . "After that day of working the phones to verify that this was all a false alarm, my staff and I are adding to our mayor's office a to-do list on the creation of a telephone tree during immigration attacks."
Buttigieg, now a top candidate for the Democratic presidential election, now suggests that some of his immigration initiatives be taken nationally. On Tuesday, Buttigieg's campaign released a sweeping set of policies aimed at strengthening the American countryside – a key component is the creation of a site-based "Community Renewal Show" to encourage working-age immigrants to move to American counties in front of a shrinking population [19659002canandshouldbesignificantplayersinthegrowthofoureconomyanditistimewebegintorecognizethatasweexpandourlegalimmigrationsystemallbenefits"thepoliticaldocumentsayssuggestingthatthenewvisadesignationwouldtargetthepopulationthathaslostmajorpopulationgroupsinworkingageInreturnforthreeyearsofresidenceandemploymentinsuchcommunitiesthevisawouldtrackvisaholdersforagreencardandwouldallowtheadoptionofspousesandchildren"topreservefamilyintegrityandpromotecommunityintegration"
Immigration to the heart is also an important component of Buttigig's rural health plan, released last Friday, which would expand an emergency program that would allow foreign physicians who are training in the United States to work in rural or medically underserved areas instead of returning their homes two years, which is currently required.
Although Buttigig's campaign has not yet presented a comprehensive immigration plan, the immigration-related proposals in the candidate's other white papers are an extension of his attitude to immigration in South Bend, where he has made welcoming immigrants to the region a key component of the city's economic growth strategy.
"Pete is proud of the strong immigrant community in South Bend, which has helped the city grow, contributed to the economy and enriched the social structure of the city," Marigol Samayoa, Buttigieg campaign's deputy national press secretary, told The Daily Beast. "Pete has worked to adopt policies that help immigrants feel welcome in South Bend, create a phone booth in the event of immigration, and help jumpstart initiatives such as the Municipal ID program so that South Bend immigrants can live without fear."
"Immigrants are contributing to communities around the country, which is why Pete will continue to push for real solutions to our broken immigration system, at this critical moment in our nation's history as Washington continues to fail us.
by Buttigig's immigration rhetoric has focused on the contributions that South Bend's newest residents have made to the surrounding community, especially to the region's economy.
"Pete knows that immigration can help communities in our country reverse population reductions and rebuild neighborhoods as well," Samayoa said.  Fifty-nine percent of South Bend's population growth between 2011 and 2016 came from immigration and a travel brief released by the city in collaboration with local religious and economic groups found that immigrants to the region contributed $ 3.1 billion to the region's GDP in 2016 and paid an estimated $ 212.8 million in federal taxes and $ 103 million dollars in state and local taxes.
"I guess the president thinks the United States is full. Was not. I would be happy to have more people, ”Buttigieg said during a CNN City Hall in April. "We have plenty of room for more residents and taxpayers who want to fund snow plowing and firefighters that I have to have for the value of 130,000 people in the city, with only 100,000 people paying for it."
Part of the welcoming strategy has been to assure immigrants in the city, documented or otherwise, that they are safe in South Bend. At a "Know Your Rights" event early in Trump's presidency, hosted by the National Immigrant Justice Center and La Casa de Amistad, a local immigrant community organization, Buttigieg residents in Spanish said "our police are here to protect you, not to pursue federal immigration enforcement. "
" The last thing our law enforcement needed was for families in Latino to be afraid to even talk to our officers, especially if they had information needed to solve or prevent crime in their neighborhood, as they break down local police with federal immigration authorities, "Buttigieg wrote in his memoir published earlier this year.
Although state law prohibits South Bend from claiming "sanctuary city" status, Buttigieg has described the city's policy as "welcome" and has insisted that South Bend police do not help enforce federal immigration law, which he likened "military service."
But perhaps the most innovative immigration policy adopted under Buttigieg has been the creation of an identity card program through a public-private partnership with La Casa de Amistad. The program, called "SB ID," is intended to help South Bend residents who cannot obtain a driver's license or passport access to critical services.
La Casa de Amistad distributes the IDs, which, thanks to an executive order signed by Buttigieg, are recognized by law enforcement, schools and libraries. Local banks and pharmacies also recognize SB-ID, which allows them to open bank accounts, obtain financial reports and collect medicines without identification. And since the program is administered by a private organization, the recipients' identity cannot be obtained through public registry requests, which provides protection for those who are concerned that their immigration status may become public knowledge.
Not that the anti-immigrant groups have not tried. Last week, the conservative legal organization Judicial Watch announced that it filed an APRA lawsuit against South Bend, Indiana, and searched all records of messages from Buttigieg's office related to the program's creation.
"Mayor Buttigieg & # 39; s City Administration in South Bend is in a protective position on his work for special ID cards to make it easier for illegal aliens to stay in the United States in violation of the law," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a statement announcing the suit. "Judicial Watch made simple requests for open records and has not faced anything other than games from the Buttigieg administration – why we had to sue."
Both Buttigig's campaign and mayor's office denied all attempts to silence the request, saying that the record on the issue does not even exist.
"Obviously this is an attempt to scare the undocumented society," Samayoa said, calling the timing of the suit "ridiculous."
"After a domestic terrorist drove to El Paso to kill Latinos continues this right-wing GOP fear that inspired this attack in El Paso, "Samayoa continued. "It is an attempt to deter cities from standing up for immigrants." Being a city leader means that you are closest to meat and potato issues that resonate with voters, both for good and for good.
"They are closest to the people, and they are not in Washington," A political consultant currently working with one of Buttigigg's rivals for the Democratic nomination, told The Daily Beast about mayor. "Washington, DC, is not very popular among the American public right now. Being able to say, "I'm not part of the problem, I'm part of the solution" is extremely beneficial. "
Part of beating those solutions, Buttigieg told reporters while touring at the Iowa State Fair on Tuesday, emphasizes the lesson that all mayors learn: at the end of the day, we're all neighbors and that "it's hard to hate up close."
"Very rural, very conservative areas are much more open on immigration when they personally know immigrants, "Buttigieg said." People have been told that immigration is the problem. I think it changes the way we look at things when it is kind of all this fear of the unknown. "