Point/Counterpoint: Immigration and Sanctuary Cities

Sanctuary Cities Foster Crime

Nevan Malwana, Junior, Associate Editor-in-Chief

Emerging as a hot button issue over the past few years, “sanctuary cities” are once again in the spotlight as the Trump administration made news recently after a federal appeals court ruled that the Justice Department can refuse to give federal funding to places that consider themselves “sanctuaries.” Much of the discourse over these sanctuaries has been as to whether or not they are legal institutions. While many argue that sanctuary cities help to increase regulation of crime in areas heavily populated by immigrants, in truth sanctuary cities can serve as safe hubs for crime, limit the ability of police officers to carry out their jobs and innately undermine the U.S. as a whole. 

The most common argument raised in support of sanctuary cities is that the fear of being deported leads undocumented immigrants to avoid reporting crime to law enforcement, and on the surface, this does appear to be the case. According to ProCon.org, 70 percent of undocumented immigrants said that they were less likely to report crimes in fear of their immigration status being investigated. Yet a deeper look into some of the data regarding illegal immigrants paints a different picture. For instance, in 2014, 63 percent of illegal immigrants released from detention centers had previous criminal convictions. Adding to the concern, 36.6 percent of released illegal immigrants had felony charges or convictions. When this is taken into consideration, often, the push to make illegal immigrants more comfortable to report crime could lead to violent criminals roaming free on the streets.

Whether one either supports or disagrees with the idea of illegal immigration, anyone who crosses the U.S. border illegally is regarded legally as a criminal. Hence, laws that prevent police officers from investigating and arresting said criminals, help to shelter crime. Furthermore, these laws also limit the capability to which police officers can carry out their jobs. Instead of being able to arrest illegal immigrants upon entry to the country, law enforcement officials have to wait for these immigrants to commit a second crime to arrest them. While of course many of these immigrants do not pose a threat, it would be foolish to regard that as a blanket statement. According to the Washington Examiner, in 2019 there was a 50 percent increase in illegal immigrant gang members to the U.S. This has led to many sanctuary areas such as California, and certain parts of New York seeing unprecedented levels of gang violence. Gangs like MS-13 take advantage of immigration laws, especially those pertaining to children, to recruit members. 

Those who claim President Trump’s decision is pure politics are simply uninformed. This move will help curtail crime both locally and nationally, as well as assist law enforcement. President Trump has set a powerful precedent – any attempt to undermine U.S. national policy, will be met with national resistance.