Immigration

Study Finds Sanctuary City Policies Reduce Deportations Without Increasing Crime

The much-publicized result is ocnsistent with previous studies on the impact of sanctuary city

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Over the last decade or so, many state and local governments have adopted "sanctuary" policies that restrict their law enforcement agencies' cooperation with federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants. Critics, including the Trump administration, claim that sanctuary policies increase crime. Trump has adopted a range of policies designed to coerce sanctuary jurisdictions into doing the bidding ICE, which in turn has led to numerous court decisions striking down the administration's policies.

A recent widely publicized study by Stanford University political science research fellow David Hausman finds that sanctuary city policies result in a reduction in deportations, but no accompanying increase in crime. Here is the abstract summarizing the findings:

The US government maintains that local sanctuary policies prevent deportations of violent criminals and increase crime. This report tests those claims by combining Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deportation data and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) crime data with data on the implementation dates of sanctuary policies between 2010 and 2015. Sanctuary policies reduced deportations of people who were fingerprinted by states or counties by about one-third. Those policies also changed the composition of deportations, reducing deportations of people with no criminal convictions by half—without affecting deportations of people with violent convictions. Sanctuary policies also had no detectable effect on crime rates. These findings suggest that sanctuary policies, although effective at reducing deportations, do not threaten public safety.

The article is, unfortunately, gated, so it may not be easy for readers without university or research institute affiliations to get free access. But this Washington Post article has a good summary of the results,as does the Hill. Hausman's findings are consistent with those of previous academic research on the subject, which consistently also concludes that sanctuary city policies do not result in increased crime rates, and may even reduce them. In Chapter 6 of my recent book, Free to Move, I use this and related evidence to make the point that we can better combat violent and property crime by redirecting resources currently used for deportation efforts to conventional policing. For example, I estimate that  zeroing out ICE immigration enforcement programs would free up enough funds to pay the salaries of over 60,000 new police officers. And unlike ICE's current activities, extensive evidence indicates that having more conventional cops on the street really does reduce crime—though it is also important to do more to curb police abuses against civilians, including racial profiling.

I do not suggest that hiring more cops is the best possible use of resources currently devoted to deportation efforts. But, if the goal is reducing crime rates—particularly when it comes to violent and property crimes that actually harm people, it would be a major improvement over the status quo.

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  1. Ignoring one particular type of crime doesn’t increase other crime in general? Great, I suppose. A bit of the luster off the Broken Windows Theory of policing.

    Now, can we talk about how under-enforcement (the Ferguson Effect) has lead to an increase in murders?

    Regardless, what’s plain on the nose, is that by not deporting illegal aliens, and all the crimes they DO commit, there is still an overall net increase in the crime rate compared to a counterfactual where there were no illegal aliens.

    1. There would be a net decrease in the aggregate number of crimes committed in America (as there would be if any group of 10+ million people were removed from a population), but there is no basis to conclude that it would reduce the “crime rate”. In fact, most evidence suggests that an illegal immigrant is less likely on average than an American citizen to commit a crime (i.e. if they were removed, the average crime rate of the remaining population would increase).

      1. Also, we would be broke removing 10+ million people back to their countries of origin.

      2. I’m leary of those studies that say that illegal aliens are less likely than Americans to commit a crime. The difference between the UCR and self-reported victimization, even for major crimes, is about 15%. Illegal aliens, who commit crimes or have crimes committed up on them, are even less likely to call police. This is similar to how it’s gang members and drug dealers who shoot and rob gang members and drug dealers; they know there is a mutual desire to avoid imperial entanglements. There are other concerns with these studies, but that’s the major one.

        The “illegal aliens don’t commit crime” argument is really a fallacious one, because their very presence is illegal. It also pre-supposes a sort of common-law acceptance that law on the books vs. law on the ground doesn’t matter, and that’s a very slippery slope to be on.

        1. The “illegal aliens don’t commit crime” argument is really a fallacious one, because their very presence is illegal.

          First, that’s not right. We don’t make status illegal; they committed an illegal entry, that is not the same as their presence being illegal.

          Second, there are crimes and there are crimes. We know what people are talking about when they talk about crime rates, and it’s not illegal aliens existing.

        2. “The “illegal aliens don’t commit crime” argument is really a fallacious one, because their very presence is illegal.”

          Their presence may be against the law, but it’s not a crime. And it looks like most are overstaying entry conditions versus entering illegally, so even getting into the country wasn’t a crime:

          https://www.npr.org/2019/01/16/686056668/for-seventh-consecutive-year-visa-overstays-exceeded-illegal-border-crossings

          1. Look, that’s a bit of a scam. Your typical illegal immigrant doesn’t walk into a wilderness area, living off nuts and berries while living in a hollow log.

            They obtain fraudulent ID. Illegally take jobs, use government services while pretending to be legal residents. Drive. Open bank accounts. Again using fraudulent ID.

            It’s virtually impossible for an illegal immigrant to not be a criminal many times over.

            1. In most “sanctuary” jurisdictions you can do those things without any need for fraud. Working is the one exception, but plenty of employers are willing to pay under the table and as long as the immigrant pays taxes that’s still not a crime.

            2. “Look, that’s a bit of a scam. Your typical illegal immigrant doesn’t walk into a wilderness area, living off nuts and berries while living in a hollow log.”

              Nope, they find someone willing to employ them despite lack of proper paperwork. The people avoiding paying payroll taxes aren’t all illegals.

      3. Illegals are only more law abiding than American citizens if you include black and Hispanic citizens. They’re far less law abiding than white Americans.

    2. ” there is still an overall net increase in the crime rate compared to a counterfactual where there were no illegal aliens.”

      Assuming there was a free way to become a land with no illegal aliens, that would be the most cost-effective way to reduce crime. But you’d have to hire enough ALJs to hold 10,000,000 deportation hearings to deport 10,000,000 illegal aliens from this country, and Republicans don’t want to pay for that. (Neither do the Democrats)

      1. Meh. Just make it very difficult for them to get jobs through e-verify or similar programs, and punish those that hire them, and send back those that are caught for other crimes, and you’d solve most of the problem without mass deportations over just a few years. Romney was right on this, in that we can get many to self-deport.

        We’ve had mass deportations before, and it’s worked though, during the Ike Administration. Also, you presume that the same procedures in place today, will be in place tomorrow, for any mass deportation.

        I don’t think it will happen though. A few crying small children as mom or dad illegal is put into a van and Trump will reverse course, so wisely, he is all hat and no cattle on this issue. Glad he moved the Overton Window though.

        1. Sure, target the businesses that are profiting from this peasant-class labor pool.

          Except that the GOP won’t have it. They’d prefer to target the victims and whip up some outgroup antipathy while they’re at it.

          1. You could start imposing corporate death penalty, or massive civil forfeiture, when you catch a business with employees with fake papers. But, as you say, The R’s wouldn’t sit still for that. You could impose criminal liability on the business’s owners or officers, and then when it turns out that, oops, the leader of a major American political party is guilty, use that as an impeachable offense. Or you could just ramp up the machinery and hire the thousands of ALJs you’d need to hold enough deportation hearings to make deportation a real threat. But the GOP base doesn’t want to pay enough taxes to hire all those new government employees, much less get them trained and provide sufficient office space and support staff for them to get any work done.

            1. You are I believe correct that the GOP is not interested in reducing illegal immigration. Whether the base would be willing to pay higher taxes for enforcement is an open question – I don’t believe they’ve ever been asked. I certainly haven’t…

              Mad_Kalak has the right idea, if e-Verify were made effective and mandatory the incentive goes away and over time the problem would solve itself. And the odd prosecution of a CEO wouldn’t hurt pour encourager les autres.

              1. ” if e-Verify were made effective and mandatory the incentive goes away and over time the problem would solve itself.”

                Sure, and who appoints the receiver for the assets of the corporation after it’s charter is declared void?

          2. Yep, the G.W. Bush era GOP won’t have it. They have been “colluding” with the Dems who want a new client group. I hope this changes.

        2. “Just make it very difficult for them to get jobs through e-verify or similar programs, and punish those that hire them, and send back those that are caught for other crimes, and you’d solve most of the problem without mass deportations over just a few years”

          The hassle them until they go home theory doesn’t account for what the conditions are/were when and where they left.

          1. We shouldn’t care much what the conditions are in their home country, and unless there is an actual war and they are actual refugees, then it’s up to them to fix their country.

            1. If your strategy is to make it worse for them here than there, then yes, you do indeed need to care about what the conditions are in their home country.

    3. Ignoring one particular type of crime doesn’t increase other crime in general?

      Why does this surprise you? Prosecutors apply this principle all the time when they grant people immunity in exchange for testimony in other criminal cases.

      1. Is that accurate? I always assumed that prosecutors made a calculation like “You’ll keep doing prostitution (20 crimes per month) with this plea deal; but thanks to you/your info, we’re getting a rapist (1 crime per month) off the street.”

        Overall crime will increase due to my decision to not prosecute you (or, at least, the rate will not decrease). But *serious* crime will decrease, and IMO as the prosecutor, that’s a worthwhile goal.

        1. Law enforcement will commit crimes in order to obtain evidence that crimes are taking place. (It’s called a “sting”.) They’ll hire prostitutes, and buy drugs, either themselves or using other people. A favorite is when the send in the underage people to buy beer at the grocery store, then bust the clerk(s) who didn’t check ID.

  2. Wouldn’t a violent criminal want to stay in Honduras or Mexico where it is apparently relatively easy to get away with violent crime??

    1. Presumably, a violent criminal would want to stay where violent crime pays the best.

      1. Does being a rapist pay well??

        1. Depend on who’s doing the paying.

        2. We have good looking women here.

      2. Presumably, a violent criminal would want to stay where the police won’t shoot him just to save on paperwork.

  3. Breaking News: Decriminalizing stealing results in a 0% increase in the crime of theft!

    1. This makes absolutely no sense. A sanctuary city doesn’t decriminalize anything it just stops cooperation between police officers at the local level with ICE except for immigrants who commit or have committed violent crimes. If ICE catches them on their own they are still screwed. They do this with the hope that immigrants will trust the police and report a crime they have witnessed.

      1. Except many of the cities which are sanctuaries have done exactly that, ignoring some petty crimes. California reduced the penalties for many crimes, resulting in fewer people being arrested but no necessarily in fewer of these crimes being committed.

        These are two side of the same policy.

      2. It decriminalizes illegal immigration. The police also actively hide illegals even in some cases violent ones. And many of the sanctuary jurisdictions concomitantly also let up on enforcement or charges. See for example the recent BLM riots where they are MIA. No police no crime. Its a miracle!

        1. Decriminalizing being in the country illegally happened in 1789 when no one ever did it in the first place.

          1. Stupid no edit function: Decriminalizing being in the country illegally happened in 1789 when no one ever criminalized it in the first place.

          2. There was no formal law against murder or rape in 10k bc as far as we know. Does that mean there still isnt?

            1. There have been formal laws against murder and rape for quite a while. both are well-defined in the criminal law. but being in the country illegally is not a crime. It’s a status offense, for which the sole remedy is removal. Coincidentally, Congress caps the number of people allowed to hear deportation cases, so even going full-on, every non-holiday in the federal calendar, the number of deportation hearings is kept well-below the number of unlawfully-present individuals who need hearings so they can be removed. When President Obama went to Congress and asked for authority to hold more deportation hearings, Congress didn’t even bother to schedule any hearings to consider the request. Republicans were running it at the time, and their base thought thwarting anything Obama wanted to do was more important than getting any more of those illegals actually removed from the country.

            2. If something has never been a crime there is no way to decriminalize it.

  4. In “[t]he much-publicized result is ocnsistent with previous studies on the impact of sanctuary city,” “ocnsistent” perhaps should be “consistent.” Covfefe?

    1. cromulence debate to follow.

    2. Most men get turned on by the sight of a beautiful woman. I think Ilya gets all hot and bothered under the collar by the sight of crowds crossing the southern border illegally.

      1. If such sights existed.

  5. But this Washington Post article has a good summary of the results,as does the Hill.

    If you consider those good summaries, I’d hate to see what you think a bad one would look like.

  6. ” Critics, including the Trump administration, claim that sanctuary policies increase crime.”

    yes, convincing crime victims that it’s safe to report crimes, will make the rate of reported crime go up. Because crimes you know about are so much worse than ones you don’t know about.

  7. Democrats wants to import illegal votes to turn our nation into a one party Marxist state, as happened in California. These immigrants are tax sucking parasites, in contrast to legal immigrants. They perfect to advance the agenda and to empower the Democrat Party, the party of the scumbag lawyer profession.

    1. Wow man, you really are racist. I was trying to give you the benefit of the doubt but this is like the third article where I just find you spewing hate based on someone’s skin color. Illegal Immigrants pay taxes plus they are denied almost every government benefit out there because they are here illegally so tell me how are they “tax sucking parasites”. Compared to our president who has paid 750 dollars on average Illegal Immigrants to pay a lot more and get a lot less than our president.

      1. Shadowy,
        You’re new here. DB is a well-know Russian troll. Here, he’s pretending that Republicans are not just as flush with lawyers.
        Usually, he’s just “Blah, blah, blah . . . lawyers bad.” But (maybe because the election’s coming up???), he’s modified it to, “Blah, blah, blah, Democrat lawyers are bad.”

        Well, at least it’s a (subtle) change of pace. After Nov 3, he’ll go back to generic anti-lawyer screed. . . with the usual racist and anti-Semitic comments sprinkled in, of course. Fish gotta swim, and birds gotta fly…

        1. DB is a well-know Russian troll.

          “Roooshun” is the new “racist” — a lazy label to try to shut down discussion rather than engaging on the merits.

          1. There are plenty of conservatives on this site worth engaging on the merits. I don’t know if DB is a bot or a Russian or a troll or a really just extremely convinced about a lot of very strange ideas, but there’s certainly no value in trying to engage with that particular brand of nonsense.

            1. “There are plenty of conservatives on this site worth engaging on the merits.”

              Fewer than the ideal. Alas.

        2. DB is a well-know Russian troll.

          Unlikely. He’s been doing this shtick for over a dozen years. I think he’s just a garden variety home grown kook.

          1. Way to burst my bubble DMN.
            I was happily under the impression that he was Hal Philip Walker’s son.

      2. Wow, man, people who call others racist are called race whores.

      3. Illegales get very expensive health care, at $1000 an hour in the emergency room, their favorite. Their spawn attend public schools costing $15000 for each of 8 children. Half are slow learners and cost $30000 a year for special ed. They have a high bastardy rate, and the criminality of their offspring is very high. Then, when caught, it takes years of legal procedure to deport them.

        Each of those pathologies generates a lawyer job. That explains everything about sanctuary jurisdictions.

        1. So open up an emergency room public school, and get your cut.

  8. Study Finds

    Hilarious.

  9. Other than illegal entry, I presume.

    1. Yes, I think the study (and most people) are concerned with, “Now that you are in the country, what additional crimes are you doing (if any), and how serious are any such crimes?” You may, in totally good faith, be bothered by the fact that someone illegally entered this country, even if they live an exemplary life afterwards, pay taxes, open up businesses, etc.. Lots of people take that view, and it’s not inherently wrong. But you’ll admit that there’s lots of people arguing (also in good faith) that illegal immigrants who add to our economy and social stability once in are a net benefit and not a net harm.
      It’s really easy for me to see the potential merit in your argument. It’s always puzzled me why so many hard-liners simply don’t have the integrity to acknowledge the potential merit in the other side . . . like acknowledging it would somehow make them look weak or squishy on immigration.

      1. I’m sure even if you count the instances of illegal entry committed in the sanctuary cities it would have a negligible effect on the overall numbers. I think San Diego and Detroit are the only places that could plausibly be called sanctuary cities that even have land borders.

        1. Land borders aren’t where most illegal immigrants enter the country. They fly in, get off the airplane, enter the country and then stay until their visa runs out, and then they keep staying AFTER their visa has run out. This is why critics keep saying your border wall boondoggle is a waste of money.

  10. It just stands to reason. Undocumented immigrants keep their heads down. They know that if they’re arrested for something they might find themselves handcuffed and flown back to Mexico. So they are less likely to commit crimes than the rest of us. This also matches my experience with the many undocumenteds I know in our neighborhood and through my wife’s church.

    1. The sleight of hand in the ‘OMG illegals commit less crime’ studies (that don’t come from simple nondetection of crime in illegal areas) is that technically illegals are a small demographic slice. Adults, coming in for work. That filters out a lot of crime prone subgroups of course but doesn’t really mean anything in the long run. Its like trying to stop the growth of a colony of mice by adding 100 new male mice because it decreases the birth rate.

      1. “The sleight of hand in the ‘OMG illegals commit less crime’ studies (that don’t come from simple nondetection of crime in illegal areas)”

        The nondetection of crime in illegal areas is why there are sanctuary cities in the first place. The local police don’t have any authority to deport illegal immigrants, but they do have a mandate to fight crimes committed in their jurisdiction. If the victims of crimes are deterred from reporting the crimes against them, the police get to pretend that they didn’t happen.

        1. Stop crime by allowing crime. Interesting strategy.

          1. Stop logic by being stupid.

            Neither new nor original.

    2. ” They know that if they’re arrested for something they might find themselves handcuffed and flown back to Mexico.”

      Whether they’re Mexican or not.

  11. Professor Somin…Seems like a very counter-intuitive finding in this study. Really looking forward to reading the full paper to look at their quantitative data.

    This begs the question of their breaking the law to get here, in the first place…They did. Then whether we think they have something tangible (like a highly desirable skill e.g. computer programming) to contribute to America.

    1. “This begs the question of their breaking the law to get here, in the first place…They did.”

      They did, IF they did. A fairly significant portion of the illegal immigrants in this country were 100% legal when they got here, because they got here on a non-permanent visa but then when their visa ran out, they stayed here.

  12. Aren’t “undocumented immigrants” (talk about Orwellian doublespeak) defacto illegal immigrants aka criminals? Does the research account for that kind of criminality?

    1. “Aren’t “undocumented immigrants” (talk about Orwellian doublespeak) defacto illegal immigrants aka criminals?”

      Your conclusion is based on a false premise. Being in the country without authorization isn’t a crime. So, no, illegal immigrants are NOT de facto criminals. They’re just Orwellian unpersons.
      Digging further, undocumented immigrants and illegal immigrants are not identical sets. An “undocumented immigrant” is a person who cannot provide documentary evidence supporting their right to be present in the United States. One of the reasons many undocumented individuals can’t provide such documents is that no such documents exist, i.e., they are here illegally, but that isn’t the only way to enter such a state. Another possible source of undocumented status is natural disaster. If a wildfire sweeps through and consumes your home and everything in it, your documents are gone, too.
      For that matter, most American citizens get their citizenship from having been born here, and few people can prove the location of their birth with documents they carry on their person. Do you have your passport with you in your daily life?

      1. If we’re going to be pedantic, there is no such thing as an illegal immigrant. Immigration is a legal process. The proper term for a foreigner coming or staying here illegally is “alien.”

        Cheers.

        1. ” The proper term for a foreigner coming or staying here illegally is ‘alien.'”

          Warrant Officer Ripley, please pick up a white courtesy phone. there is an important message for you.

  13. “This begs the question of their breaking the law to get here, in the first place”

    There’s no virtue in obeying an unjust law. Keep pretending there aren’t any conservative people who break laws that get in their way of doing what they wanted to do, by rationalizing how they needed to do something. (Whether it’s make a shopping trip at Costco without wearing a face-mask, or carrying a weapon that isn’t in compliance with all the local laws, or driving more than 55 mph on a federal highway in 1981.)

    1. It’s unjust to regulate immigration?

      1. If you say so. But remember who said so. Hint: still you.

  14. Just a few tidbits…

    Non-citizens constitute only about 7 percent of the U.S. population. Yet the latest data from the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics reveals that non-citizens accounted for nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of all federal arrests in 2018. Just two decades earlier, only 37 percent of all federal arrests were non-citizens.

    These arrests aren’t just for immigration crimes. Non-citizens accounted for 24 percent of all federal drug arrests, 25 percent of all federal property arrests, and 28 percent of all federal fraud arrests.

    1. And of course we know that all people arrested federally are guilty, because if they weren’t, they wouldn’t have been arrested, now would they?

    2. This “study’s” data is highly questionable to begin with.
      From the description, it is a count of illegals who were arrested by local law enforcement and ended up being deported, then looked back at what convictions ICE listed on the deportation order.

      Charges that were dropped are not counted. Illegals serving sentences at the time of the study are not counted. Crimes at trial or under appeal are not counted. Deportations under appeal are not counted. Illegals that disappear pending deportation are not counted.
      There was no reference to locality criminal records for charges or convictions of illegals during the period, much less any reference to crime victimization reports.

      It also appears to conflate visa overstays with illegal entry aliens, which are two wildly different categories in terms of behavior.

  15. I keep hearing that all it will take to change national immigration policy will be a House majority, a Senate majority (however large or small), and presidential signature (or even a lack of a presidential veto) . . . if this is true, most of the difficult issues associated with immigration policy and practices seem destined to improve early next year.

    1. It is a fact that an amnesty would totally erase the entire problem all at once, but I don’t think there’s any political will for any such thing. I don’t think you should expect a solution in the immediate short-term.
      There are people who benefit from the creation of a permanent underclass of people who can’t complain of crimes committed against them. Expect them to keep enjoying the benefits of this situation that they’ve created for as long as they can.

      1. You and I seem to be listening to different groups of elected Democrats. I expect immigration reform to be arranged shortly after the filibuster falls.

        1. Absolutely certain to be done by the 12th of never.

  16. Your post suggests that there is no associated increase in crime rate, not that there is no associated increase in crime. Was that an intentional distinction or did you mean to say there is no associated increase in crime?

    1. Pedantically, crime rate is a known value, while crime is not. Whether this distinction was intended is an open guess.

  17. The key question here is probably whether illegal entry into the United States is part of the definition of the “crime” reduced.

    And the answer to that question probably depends on what the political leanings of the study designers were.

    A difficulty with these sorts of studies is you can often make them go either way depending on how you specifically define general words like “crime” in the study’s details.

    Perhaps a study this would be useful if we made clear up front we were limiting the definition to major violent crimes like rape or murder. But referring to “crime” generally begs the question.

    1. In general, claiming that decriminalization reduces crime is a circular, tautological argument. Of course it does, by definition. Making anything illegal, without exception, takes people who might otherwise be functioning participants in society and turns them into criminals.

      Saying that people who do the activity in question don’t tend to commit OTHER crimes, arguing that decriminalization of the specific activity doesn’t increase other kinds of crime, is saying something real. But saying decriminalization reduces crime says nothing.

      1. You’re babbling. There isn’t a city in this country, not one, that has the authority to decriminalize uninspected entry to the country. Saying “we don’t intend to do anything about it” is not the same thing as “decriminalizing” it.

    2. “The key question here is probably whether illegal entry into the United States is part of the definition of the “crime” reduced.”

      Unless you’re talking about the United States, where a substantial portion of the unauthorized-to-be-here population didn’t enter illegally in the first place.

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