The Case for (and Against) Sanctuary Jurisdictions

Isaac Cui PO ‘20


On January 25, 2017, Donald Trump issued two sweeping executive orders which removed many of the previous administration’s policies regarding immigration enforcement in favor of a stringent, restrictionist approach. More specifically, one[1] punishes so-called sanctuary policies for causing “immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic” and mandates that sanctuary jurisdictions shall not be eligible for federal grants. It also calls for the expansion of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by hiring 10,000 additional immigration officers. The other executive order,[2] focused on strengthening immigration enforcement along the U.S.-Mexico border, similarly demonstrates the Trump administration’s pivot towards punitive policies meant to deter unauthorized migration. In implementing these policies, federal immigration officials have conducted raids in at least six states, using tactics such as random ID checks or going door-to-door in order to find residents without documentation.[3] In response, cities across the country[4] have willingly embraced the label of “sanctuary” and rallied against Trump’s policies. Thus, the debate about sanctuary jurisdictions has perhaps never been more salient—nor as important to the lives of millions of Americans—as it is now.

This essay seeks to explore sanctuary policies: what they are, the scholarly debate over them, and the benefits (and drawbacks) of adopting such policies. In doing so, this paper contends that sanctuary policies are beneficial for a wide variety of reasons, and it attempts to debunk commonly-used justifications for opposing sanctuary policies. This article is split into three parts. First, it will explain what sanctuary jurisdictions are. Next, it will examine the legality of sanctuary policies. Finally, it will explore the justifications for opposing sanctuary policies.


I. Definitions

Sanctuary policies, as an umbrella term, refer to policies adopted by subfederal governments which, in some way, refuse to enforce federal immigration law. As of 2015, around 350 local jurisdictions, three states (California, Connecticut, and Rhode Island), and the District of Columbia have adopted sanctuary policies of some kind. Their policies are diverse and multifaceted: “Many restrict compliance with detainers,[5] others prohibit local law enforcement from inquiring about subjects’ immigration status, and some restrict the use of local funding for immigration enforcement.”[6] As such, it is difficult, exactly, to pin down what jurisdictions can or cannot be considered sanctuaries. This is especially true because how sanctuary policies are adopted varies greatly—some, such as the California TRUST Act,[7] function as a state-wide policy regarding immigration non-enforcement, whereas others are simply local police policy (for example, if a local police department refuses to honor detainer requests).[8] It should be no surprise, then, that Trump’s executive order punishing sanctuary jurisdictions provides a sweeping method for determining what constitutes a sanctuary.[9] In short, finding a precise, legalistic standard for defining sanctuary jurisdictions is difficult; therefore this article defines sanctuary policies to mean, generally, a form of non-enforcement of federal immigration law.

Before proceeding further, it is worth noting that the immigration debate is a long-standing and salient debate. The result is that the related terminology has become politicized. Similar to how fights over abortion have created “pro-life” and “pro-choice” camps, immigration ideologues can be differentiated simply by referring to their word choice. Restrictionists (that is, those who prefer more stringent immigration laws) will use terms such as “illegal immigrant” or “illegal alien” as a way to stress that these migrants are breaking the law. In doing so, they attempt to link the illegal presence of migrants to criminality—a trope that, as this paper will later explain, is extremely important as a rallying tool. Integrationists (those who are more open to immigration, authorized or not), in contrast, will use terms such as “undocumented residents,” an implicit critique of the idea that human beings can be illegal. Each of these terms brings baggage with it and, so as to avoid those preconceptions, this paper, in the vein of Hiroshi Motomura,[10] a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, will use the term “unauthorized migrant” to refer to these groups. Secondly, because the scope of this paper is confined to sanctuary policies, this paper will always use the term “restrictionist” to refer to someone who opposes sanctuary policies. In other literature,[11] the term “restrictionist” refers to a diverse group of issue entrepreneurs who have varying policy beliefs that, overall, are opposed to immigration. However, for the question of sanctuary policies, those broader ideological commitments matter less, which is why this paper employs the term in a narrower sense. Now that our terminology is clearer, we can examine the question of whether or not sanctuary policies are legal.


II. The Legality of Sanctuary Jurisdictions

Some argue that, statutorily, sanctuary jurisdictions are illegal. For example, one commentator argued that: “8 U.S.C. §1373[12] bans state and local governments from prohibiting or restricting law enforcement or other government officials from sending [information to] or receiving information from the federal government[13] on the ‘citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.’”[14] This means that there could be a statutory challenge to sanctuary policies for breaking federal law. Moreover, sanctuary policies may in other ways interfere with federal law, which would also justify a constitutional challenge because federal law overrides state or local laws according to the Supremacy Clause.[15] This idea—that federal courts can strike down subfederal laws because they are superseded by contrary federal law—relies on the doctrine of preemption,[16] which has a unique history regarding immigration law.

The text of the Constitution states that Congress has the power to “establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization”[17] which, in conjunction with the Supremacy Clause, has led the Supreme Court to conclude that the power “to regulate immigration is unquestionably exclusively a federal power.”[18] This doctrine has led the judiciary to strike down local enforcement of immigration law, such as in Arizona v. United States.[19] In that case, the Supreme Court reviewed the constitutionality of Arizona’s S.B. 1070, which made breaking various federal immigration regulations a state misdemeanor, allowed police officers to arrest people believed to be deportable, and required officers to verify peoples’ documentation during specific routine activities. The Court struck down certain sections of that law, such as Section 5(C) which creates a criminal penalty for unauthorized migrants who seek work in Arizona, finding that these sections interfered with federal law.[20] Hence, there are both statutory and constitutional arguments that challenge the legality of sanctuary policies.

However, the statutory perspective misses important nuances relating to the diversity of sanctuary policies. For example, sanctuary policies which restrict local agents from gathering immigration data would certainly be permissible under 8 U.S.C. §1373.[21] Moreover, there are powerful constitutional protections for sanctuary jurisdictions. The so-called anti-commandeering doctrine, set forth in Printz v. United States,[22] states that the federal government does not have the power to force state law enforcement agents to do the federal government’s bidding. This has been applied by the Second Circuit in City of New York v. United States[23] to immigration statutes specifically, with the conclusion that Congress cannot compel states to collect and share information. (City of New York, it should be noted, concluded that, per Printz, Congress cannot require states or localities “to enact or to administer policies or programs adopted by the federal government,” but that Congress can prohibit subfederal policies which restrict local or state officials from voluntarily exchanging information regarding immigration. Thus, as applied by the Second Circuit, both 8 U.S.C. §1373 and sanctuary policies that prohibit gathering information would be constitutional under Printz.) Similarly, non-cooperation of local law enforcement with ICE—most commonly by refusing to honor detainers—has robust protections. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals, in Galarza v. Szalczyk,[24] has ruled that ICE cannot force local law enforcement agencies to comply with detainer requests, using similar logic to City of New York’s anti-commandeering analysis.

Viewed in this way, the argument that the federal government has exclusive authority over immigration is not a reason to strike down sanctuary policies—it is a reason to believe that sanctuary policies are constitutional. If only the federal government can enforce immigration law, then subfederal governments have no business in engaging with immigration law by enforcing it.[25] The case for the legality of sanctuary cities is therefore strong: immigration law, according to case law, is exclusively a federal issue, and protections under federalism mean that subfederal governments can refuse to enforce federal immigration law.

That being said, there are ways that the federal government can incentivize cooperation. Trump’s policy of banning federal funding is exactly an example of this: either localities cooperate on immigration enforcement, or the federal government can refuse to give them grants. However, there are some protections under Court case law which prevent even such a strategy from being fully implemented. In South Dakota v. Dole,[26] the Court put forth a multipronged test for determining whether Congress’ use of the spending power is constitutionally permissible. In their decision, they stated that the policy that the federal government is attempting to induce cannot be unconstitutional, that the conditioned funds must be germane to the induced behavior, and that the inducement must not be compulsory. While this was an empty threat for almost thirty years, in NFIB v. Sebelius,[27] one of the major challenges to the Affordable Care Act, the Roberts Court stated that certain uses of the spending power were too coercive. In regards to the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, the Court ruled that threatening states by withholding Medicaid funding was akin to “a gun to the head.”[28] Currently, lawsuits from Santa Cruz county, as well as from the cities of Chelsea and Lawrence, in Massachusetts, are challenging Trump’s policy of cutting federal funding on similar grounds,[29] though it is hard to know whether they will succeed due to the dearth of precedent on this matter.

However, aside from anti-coercion grounds, it is possible that there are other challenges to Trump’s executive order. Increasingly, courts have expanded the due process rights of individuals, such as in Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County,[30] where a federal district court applied constitutional protections to detention without probable cause. Similarly, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has argued that ramping up immigration enforcement, as Trump has mandated, would necessarily require racial and ethnic profiling, violating the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.[31] Under Dole, the withholding of funds cannot attempt to induce an unconstitutional policy,[32] yet it is clear that there are potential constitutional challenges to the policies that Trump is incentivizing. In fact, some cities are grudgingly sanctuaries for this exact reason—they fear the massive amounts of litigation that could occur if they were to enforce federal immigration law.[33]

A case relating to sanctuary jurisdictions has never been directly heard by the Supreme Court, which means that the issue is certainly not resolved. However, because of the strong protections under federalism, it seems clear that—barring dramatic court backtracking—sanctuary jurisdictions are, indeed, legal.


III. Sanctuary Jurisdictions as Policy—in Response to Restrictionists

While restrictionists may offer a litany of different arguments to oppose sanctuary policies, this paper chooses to examine two arguments that are commonly made. In doing so, it does not mean to imply that all restrictionists necessarily oppose sanctuary policies for the same reason; rather, this paper highlights these arguments because they are salient within political debates. First, restrictionists often argue that unauthorized migrants are dangerous criminals. This is, perhaps, the most salient argument put forth by restrictionists, and it is oftentimes grounded in heart-wrenching anecdotes about violence committed by unauthorized migrants. Secondly, they argue that unauthorized migrants are detrimental to the economy.


  1. The Criminality Argument

An example often bandied about in debates on sanctuary policies is the 2015 murder of Kathryn Steinle. Steinle was walking on a San Francisco pier when Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, an unauthorized migrant from Mexico, shot her. Using the tragic story of Steinle’s death, many lawmakers in Congress put forth policies to punish sanctuary jurisdictions.[34]

There are a few problems with using Steinle’s story to justify restrictionist policies. For one, a single story does not define the behavior of a diverse group that includes over 11 million people.[35] That assumption—that Lopez-Sanchez is representative of unauthorized migrants at large—is both inherently problematic and statistically flawed, as this paper will subsequently show. Secondly, Lopez-Sanchez had already been deported five times, which implies that altering San Francisco’s sanctuary policy may not have saved Steinle. However, as these sorts of stories are circulated more, they mesh the line between documentation status and violent criminality. This is a rhetorically powerful trope, but it is both logically and empirically dubious.

Instead, this paper contends, documentation status and violent criminality should be considered as orthogonal questions. From the perspective of crafting state and local policy, police forces will inevitably fight violent crime; sanctuary policies are therefore just a question of whether the police should also have to devote resources to enforcing immigration law. If one believes that the police are meant to protect people, then the documentation status of the perpetrator of a violent crime is wholly irrelevant. Instead, the only relevant issue is whether the police are able to stop that crime, and there is only a chance that the opportunity cost of enforcing immigration law will tradeoff with fighting violent crimes. The argument that unauthorized migrants should not be in the U.S. to commit crimes in the first place is also rather asinine because the U.S. does not deport other violent criminals—no matter how terrible they are. It seems profoundly unfair and ludicrous, therefore, to turn to enforcing immigration law as a key strategy for lowering crime rates.

From an empirical perspective, it is unlikely that immigration leads to crime. In a review of the academic literature since 2000, Matthew T. Lee, of the University of Akron, and Ramiro Martinez Jr., of Northeastern University, have found a scholarly consensus behind the proposition that immigration reduces crime. They remark that the widespread agreement on this “is astonishing giving the long-standing agreement (in theory at least) among scholars that the opposite was true.”[36] Notably, they found not only that a higher density of immigrants in a city makes the area overall less crime-ridden, but that this is also true for the specific communities that are home to migrants. This finding is important because people are likely more concerned with crime in specific neighborhoods than with city-wide trends.[37] While those studies are about immigrants writ large, and not unauthorized migration specifically, a study that analyzed the effects of Secure Communities—a program that focused on unauthorized migrants—found no statistical difference in terms of crime rates between the two groups.[38] Indeed, a study specific to sanctuary jurisdictions found that “the foreign-born population and the Hispanic foreign-born population had a significant negative relationship with crime.”[39] When undertaking a literature review of the two most-commonly used methodologies to investigate criminality, Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute has found that both methods come to that exact same conclusion: “the research is fairly one-sided” that “immigrants are less crime prone than natives or have no effect on crime rates.”[40]

One restrictionist, Hans von Spakovsky, of the Heritage Foundation, has argued that unauthorized migrants are dangerous by citing a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study from 2011. He has alleged, for example, that unauthorized migrants who were studied by the GAO “had been arrested nearly 1.7 million times and committed three million offenses, averaging about seven arrests and 12 offenses per criminal alien.”[41] However, there are a few problems with his argument. In citing the GAO’s numbers, he used numbers on “criminal aliens,” which, according to the GAO, are defined as “[n]oncitizens who are residing in the United States legally or illegally and are convicted of a crime.”[42] In other words, those statistics are not only unauthorized migrants but would also include legal permanent residents, such as those who hold a green card. Moreover, the most common offenses, by far, are not important to the question of public safety; to quote the GAO again, “[o]f the nearly 3 million arrest offenses in our study population, we estimate that about 50 percent were related to immigration, drugs, or traffic violations.”[43] Lastly, citing the GAO study runs into the problem of self-selection because it only studies prisoners, which oversimplifies the place that migrants have in American society at large. All of the scholarly studies that this paper has cited above are more holistic, and thus preferable, to the GAO’s study, for the purposes of informing public policy.

Moreover, there is reason to believe that sanctuary policies can be beneficial for fighting crime regardless of whether unauthorized migrants are more crime-prone. This is due to the chilling effect, the idea that if unauthorized migrants are worried that going to the police will result in deportation, they will be less active in reporting crimes or cooperating with law enforcement. According to many qualified people, this is a serious concern. For example, as Nowrasteh writes, “Former New York and Los Angeles police chief William Bratton — as accomplished a crime fighter as you can get — opposes local enforcement of immigration laws, ‘because immigrants living and working in our communities are afraid to have any contact with the police … [officers] can’t prevent or solve crimes if victims or witnesses are unwilling to talk to us for fear of being deported.’”[44] Similarly to Bratton, the Police Executive Research Forum, the LA County Sheriff’s Department, the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police, the Major Cities Chief’s Association, and the Police Foundation all are opposed to, or skeptical of, local enforcement of immigration law.[45] Community cooperation is vital to help police do their job because they often lack the intelligence capabilities to safely protect against, for example, terrorism.[46]

Thus, from a statistical and logical perspective, it does not make sense to think about the issue of unauthorized migration as an issue of crime. In fact, most evidence would point to sanctuary jurisdictions as creating safer communities.


2. The Economic Argument

Another common argument is that unauthorized migration, in the aggregate, has a negative impact on the economy overall. However, a report from the Center for American Progress casts doubt on the veracity of that claim. In it, Tom Wong writes that “economies are stronger in sanctuary counties—from higher median household income, less poverty, and less reliance on public assistance to higher labor force participation, higher employment-to-population ratios, and lower unemployment.”[47] That study, importantly, compared sanctuary jurisdictions to jurisdictions which cooperate with federal immigration law. Therefore, it is a more direct indication of the effects of sanctuary policies, whereas studies that rely on, for example, the density of unauthorized migrants would have to rely on the assumption that sanctuary policies increase the number of unauthorized migrants—an empirically dubious claim.[48] Thus, this study is more conclusive than others. The fact that these findings are statistically significant—and that they are true for so many economic indicators—strongly supports the idea that sanctuary policies are good policy.

In regards to the net effect of unauthorized migration on the economy, the literature is less conclusive. One economist has argued that unauthorized migrants tend to move in relation to the overall state of the U.S. economy, which means that they naturally fill in gaps in the economy more effectively than documented immigrants.[49] This effect makes unauthorized migration a “fast, flexible source of workers, which benefits the US economy by reducing bottlenecks and fostering economic growth.”[50] Indeed, unauthorized migration is extremely important for jobs in agriculture, construction, and other so-called low-skilled industries, something important given that native-born people who would take those jobs are growing increasingly scarce.[51]

However, some argue that unauthorized migration depresses wages, creating a counter-balancing effect to those benefits. The general idea is simple: the influx of unauthorized migrants, who oftentimes work low-wage jobs, will compete with native-born workers. This depresses wages among those groups and creates competition among jobs which are done by some of the poorest workers in the American economy. This functions as a form of income redistribution, allowing more wealth to accumulate to those who hire unauthorized migrant labor, while those who work in the same industry as those unauthorized migrants will suffer lower wages or unemployment.[52] However, one study, assessing data from Georgia, demonstrates that this is not necessarily true. That study found that, on the contrary, the influx of unauthorized migrant workers actually increased the wages for documented workers. Their primary explanation for this is that unauthorized migrants help to create specialization among workers, because documented workers are presumably more proficient in English and thus can engage in higher productivity tasks which require good English skills. This effect is greatest among low skill workers, which exactly rebuts the redistribution of wealth argument.[53] That being said, most of the academic literature concludes that there is no long-term correlation, in either direction, between migration and wages (though this finding is about migration at large, not unauthorized migration).[54]

On the whole, it is difficult to know exactly whether unauthorized migration is beneficial or harmful to the economy. However, the effect that unauthorized migration has on the economy is small. For one, low-skilled labor is not a large sector of the U.S. labor force, which means the aggregate effect of unauthorized migration is inherently minimal. Thus, when evaluating the so-called immigration surplus—the effect that migration has on the economic situation of native persons—Gordon Hanson of the University of California, San Diego, has found that unauthorized migration generates a national income surplus of .03 percent[55] of U.S. GDP, an anticlimactic amount given the salience of unauthorized migration as a political issue.[56] Therefore, even though there is no dispositive evidence on the effects that unauthorized migration has on the U.S. economy, it is clear that the magnitude of those effects is quite small.


IV. Conclusion

Immigration is a complex and difficult issue, and it is at the core of the cultural, social, and political fabric of the United States; its effects are, as such, widespread. This essay, therefore, did not seek to answer every question relating to sanctuary policies and their desirability. What it did do, however, is focus on some of the most salient points raised against sanctuary policies: their legality, and their effects on the economy and crime. And while it contested many of those qualms, there is a larger forest which we should not miss by focusing too much on individual trees. Sanctuary policies might have ambivalent effects on crime and the economy, however, their effect on migrants is clear-cut. Moreover, it is migrants, more than anyone else, who are most vulnerable and affected by such policies. Debates that solely focus on statistics about crime or economic growth are therefore deeply flawed because they leave out the migrant from debates on migration. If public policy is to be determined by rational cost-benefit analysis, then the most important cost—the effect on migrant lives—cannot be left out of consideration.


[1] Donald J. Trump, Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, (The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 25 Jan 2017), online at: (visited 27 Feb 2017).

[2] Donald J. Trump, Executive Order: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements, (The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 25 Jan 2017), online at: (visited 27 Feb 2017).

[3] Lisa Rein, Abigail Hauslohner, and Sandhya Somashekhar, Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states, (The Washington Post, 11 Feb 2017), online at: (visited 27 Feb 2017).

[4] For example, Los Angeles and Oakland have both reaffirmed their status as sanctuaries in the face of Trump’s executive orders. See: Maura Dolan and James Queally, Santa Clary County seeks to block Trump’s order to defund sanctuary cities, (Los Angeles Times, 23 Feb 2017), online at: (visited 27 Feb 2017).

[5] Detainers are requests that ICE sends to local or state law enforcement agencies to hold or transfer people into ICE’s custody for deportation. For more information, see: Lazaro Zamora, Sanctuary Cities and Immigration Detainers: A Primer (Bipartisan Policy Center, 28 July 2015; updated 5 July 2016), online at: (visited 17 Nov 2016).

[6] Muzaffar Chishti and Faye Hipsman, Sanctuary Cities Come Under Scrutiny, As Does Federal-Local Immigration Relationship (Migration Policy Institute, 20 Aug 2015), online at: (visited 14 Feb 2017).

[7] Allan Colbern and Karthick Ramakrishnan, State Policies on Immigrant Integration: An Examination of Best Practices and Policy Diffusion (UC Riverside School of Public Policy Working Paper Series, Feb 2016), online at: (visited 18 Nov 2016).

[8] Chishti and Hipsman, Id.

[9] Note that the Secretary of Homeland Security “has the authority to designate, in his discretion and to the extent consistent with law, a jurisdiction as a sanctuary jurisdiction.” Enhancing Public Safety…, Id.

[10] Immigration Outside the Law (Oxford University Press 2014).

[11] For example, see Pratheepan Gulasekaram and S. Karthick Ramakrishnan, The New Immigration Federalism (Cambridge University Press 2015).

[12] For reference, 8 U.S.C. §1373 (a) reads: “Notwithstanding any other provision of Federal, State, or local law, a Federal, State, or local government entity or official may not prohibit, or in any way restrict, any government entity or official from sending to, or receiving from, the Immigration and Naturalization Service information regarding the citizenship or immigration status, lawful or unlawful, of any individual.”

[13] It is worth noting that 8 U.S.C. §1373 (a) and (b) forbid restricting information exchange between any levels of government. For example, it would also be illegal for a state to ban local governments from transferring among themselves information about the documentation status. Supra at 12.

[14] Hans A. von Spakovsky, America’s Sanctuary City Nightmare (The National Interest, 23 Aug 2015), online at: (visited 14 Feb 2017).

[15] “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof […] shall be the supreme Law of the Land,” U.S. Const Art VI, §2.

[16] The Supremacy Clause and the Doctrine of Preemption (Findlaw n.d.), online at: (visited 18 Nov 2016).

[17] U.S. Const Art I, §8, cl 4.

[18] De Canas v. Bica 424 U.S. 351 (1976).

[19] 567 U.S. ___ (2012).

[20] Id at 2-3.

[21] Recall that U.S.C. §1373 only makes it illegal to restrict information transfer between government bodies, as well as, per U.S.C. §1373 (b), to restrict “Maintaining such information,” which implies that refusing to collect such information would be statutorily permissible. Supra 12 and 13.

[22] 521 U.S. 898 (1997).

[23] 179 F.3d 29, (2nd Cir 1999).

[24] No. 12-3991 (3rd Cir 2014).

[25] Bridget Stubblefield, Current Development: Development in the Executive Branch Sanctuary Cities: Balancing Between National Security Directives, Local Law Enforcement Autonomy, and Immigrants’ Rights, 29 Georgetown Immigration Law Journal 541 (Spring 2015).

[26] 483 U.S. 203 (1987).

[27] 567 U.S. ___ (2012).

[28] Id at 51.

[29] Dolan and Queally, Id.

[30] No. 3:12-cv-02317-ST (US Dis Crt, D. Or, Portland Division, 2014).

[31] Anthony D. Romero, Donald Trump: A One-Man Constitutional Crisis (American Civil Liberties Union 13 July 2016), online at: (28 Feb 2017).

[32] Lynn A. Baker, The Spending Power After NFIB v. Sebelius, 37 Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy 71 (2013).

[33] Tim Henderson, Will Small ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Defy a Trump Crackdown? (The Pew Charitable Trusts 2016), online at: (visited 14 Feb 2017).

[34] Chishti and Hipsman, Id.

[35] Jie Zong and Jeanne Batalova, Frequently Requested Statistics on Immigrants and Immigration in the United States (Migration Policy Institute, 8 Mar 2017), online at: (visited 8 Mar 2017).

[36] Matthew T. Lee and Ramiro Martinez Jr., Immigration Reduces Crime: An Emerging Scholarly Consensus, 13 Sociology of Crime, Law and Deviance 3 (2009), online at: (visited 26 Jan 2017) at 5.

[37] Id.

[38] Elina Treyger, Aaron Chalfin, and Charles Loeffler, Immigration Enforcement, Policing, and Crime, 13 Criminology & Public Policy 285 (2014), online at: (visited 15 Feb 2017).

[39] Daniel J. Hummel, Immigrant-Friendly and Unfriendly Cities: Impacts on the Presence of a Foreign-Born Population and City Crime, 17 Journal of International Migration and Integration 1211 (November 2016).

[40] Alex Nowrasteh, Immigration and Crime – What the Research Says (Cato Institute 2015), online at: (visited 15 Feb 2017).

[41] Von Spakovsky, Id.

[42] Government Accountability Office, Criminal Alien Statistics: Information on Incarcerations, Arrests, and Costs (GAO 2011), 6, online at: (visited 14 Feb 2017).

[43] GAO, Id at 21.

[44] Alex Nowrasteh, Texas’ Sanctuary City Law a Solution in Search of a Problem (Competitive Enterprise Institute 2011), online at: (visited 17 Nov 2016).

[45] Nowrasteh, Texas’…, Id.

[46] Vanda Felbab-Brown, Trump’s counterproductive attack on sanctuary cities (Brookings 2017), online at: (visited 14 Feb 2017).

[47] Tim K. Wong, The Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and the Economy (Center for American Progress 2017), online at: (visited 14 Feb 2017).

[48] Hummel, Id at 23 (“Based on the results it can be concluded that local immigration policy may have had no relationship to the decision to live and/or relocate to a community for the foreign-born population in general and the Hispanic foreign-born population in general […] Certainly the continued existence of immigrants in some of these anti-immigrant cities is a clear indication that these policies have failed if their goal was to chase them out of there”).

[49] Gordon H. Hanson, The Economic Logic of Illegal Immigration (Council on Foreign Relations 2007), online at: (visited 15 Feb 2017).

[50] Pia Orrenius and Madeline Zavodny, Unauthorized Mexican Workers in the United States: Recent Inflows and Possible Future Scenarios (Center for Global Development, September 2016), online at: (visited 10 Mar 2017), at 13.

[51] Gordon H. Hanson, The Economics and Policy of Illegal Immigration in the United States (Migration Policy Institute, Dec 2009), online at: (visited 10 Mar 2017).

[52] George Borjas, Immigration and the American Worker (Center for Immigration Studies 2013), online at: (visited 15 Feb 2017).

[53] Julie L. Hotchkiss et al, The Wage Impact of Undocumented Workers: Evidence from Administrative Data, 81 Southern Economic Journal 874 (2015), online at:

[54] Mike Konczal, The effects of immigration on wages (The Washington Post, 5 May 2010), online at: (visited 10 Mar 2017).

[55] This number is derived from the net productivity that employers gain from unauthorized migration. The motivation behind this calculation is to evaluate the effects of unauthorized migration on native persons and, hence, excludes how much income is paid to the migrants themselves. This number, therefore, is not reflective of gains in the U.S. economy, but rather, how much native persons gain from immigration. The U.S. economy expands significantly more than .03 percent due to unauthorized migration, but most of the new wealth goes to the migrants, leaving a rather negligible effect on U.S. native income.

[56] Hanson, The Economics and Policy…, Id.

One thought on “The Case for (and Against) Sanctuary Jurisdictions

  1. ‘It seems profoundly unfair and ludicrous, therefore, to turn to enforcing immigration law as a key strategy for lowering crime rates.’ Seems logical on the face of it to me. If one percent of a population group commits violent crime, which equals one percent of total violent crime for a nation, and you remove all members of this group from a nation, that nation’s crime rate does drop the one percent. You can argue the cost of removing all of this group, or the injustice in removing innocents, but if you lead with faulty logic, it could question your objectivity.

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