Monday, March 6, 2017

Sanctuary Cities Are Actually Safer And More Productive

Pro-Bay Area Sanctuary protest 
Hello Everyone:

A new week and new things to talk about.  Before we get going on today's subject, sanctuary cities, a word on the travel ban version 2.0.    Well (inhaling), it is an improvement (exhaling). This is the best thing yours truly can say about the edict, intended to skirt legal challenges.  Stay tuned for further details.  Shall we talk about sanctuary cities?

On January 25, 2017 President Donald J. Trump issued an executive order-"Enhancing Public Safety In The Interior Of The United States" (; date accessed Mar, 6, 2017)-that targets sanctuary cities.  The executive order was intended to jumpstart his agenda and in it, he asked the municipalities that legally curtail local law enforcement from aiding federal immigration authorities or lose federal funds.  Specifically,

Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States.  These jurisdiction have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.  (Ibid)

Immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic?  Really?

Protestors waving flags in front of a POTUS effigy in Los Angeles
Photograph by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters
 In her recent CityLab article, "Sanctuary Cities Are Safer and More Productive," Tanvi Misra reports that the claim these jurisdictions do immeasurable harm to their inhabitants is not quite accurate.  Allow yours truly to explain.  A new study, The Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and the Economy, co-published by the Center for American Progress (; date accessed Mar. 6, 2017) and the National Immigration Law Center ( contradicts POTUS's claim of immeasurable harm.

In the study, Tom K. Wong, an associate professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, sampled 2, 492 counties in an Immigration and Customs Enforcement database.  The agency, identified 602 "sanctuary" counties-local law enforcements reject detainer requests from ICE to retain suspected undocumented immigrants for additional time.

Map of cities pledged to remained sanctuary cities
 Prof. Wong's main conclusions are:

There are, on average, 35.5 fewer crimes committed per 10,000 people in sanctuary counties versus non-sanctuary counties. (; date accessed Mar. 6, 2017)

This is a statistically significant result.

Sanctuary counties also reported improved economic condition,

Median household annual income is, on average, $4,353 higher in sanctuary counties compared to nonsanctuary counties.

The poverty rate is 2.3 percent lower in sanctuary counties compared comes to nonsanctuary counties. (Ibid)

Further, these beneficial effects are more evident in small counties "...where the contributions of each individual immigrant were likely to have a larger impact."

Mayor Rahm Emmanuel declaring Chicago forever a sanctuary city

Prof. Wong's conclusion was:

...The data support arguments made by law enforcement executives that communities are safer when law enforcement agencies do become entangled in federal immigration enforcement efforts.  The data also make clear that, when counties protect all of their residents, they see significant economic gains.  By keeping out federal immigration enforcement, sanctuary counties are keeping families together-and when households remain intact and individuals can continue contributing, this strengthens local economies.  (Ibid)

Why sanctuary cities make sense

 This is not the first time the Trump administration's narrative on sanctuary cities has been contradicted.  The Washington Post reported, on January 27, 2017, Prof. Wong analyzed Federal Bureau of Investigation crime rates over time in sanctuary cities.  Some jurisdictions, like San Francisco, saw a rise a crime rates while others, like Baltimore, experienced the opposite effect.  (; date accessed Mar. 6, 2017)  In short, "On average, the researchers observed no statistically significant effect on crime after these cities enacted sanctuary-type policies."  (Ibid)

POTUS announcing an executive order
Mayors on both sides of the political spectrum have put forth the argument "...conflating policing with immigration enforcement leads to a breakdown in community trust..."  This is a claim that is supported by a study on the role of state and local police in immigration. (; date accessed Mar. 6, 2017)  To the contrary, the mayors say "...sanctuary cities do cooperate with authorities, just in a way that doesn't jeopardized the relationship local police have with immigrant populations."  To be fair, a 2012 congressional report, Interior Immigration Enforcement: Programs Targeting Criminal Aliens (; date Mar. 6, 2017) there is a small minority of undocumented immigrants who do commit crimes.

The bottom line is cities where there is a bond of trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities are cities that are safer and more productive.  

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