Who benefits from sanctuary?

What’s a sanctuary city?

Sanctuary cities instruct their municipal employees not to ask residents about their immigration status. This allows immigrants–documented or not–to have equal access to the benefits of police and firefighting services, public education, and other public programs in the city.

The police do not prosecute them solely for violating federal immigration laws. The police will not cooperate with Federal immigration authorities, if those authorities conduct raids in the city.

Local police in sanctuary towns and cities do not ask for proof of immigration status on routine traffic stops (such as running a stop sign). They do not check immigration status when a resident calls the police to report a crime.

If local police must enforce Federal immigration law, everyone on the street will need to carry proof of their immigration status/citizenship at all times, or risk arrest.

There are many sanctuary cities and counties in the United States.  In addition, the entire states of Alaska, Maine, and Rhode Island hold Sanctuary status.

In January, 2017 President Trump signed an Executive Order stripping Federal funding from Sanctuary cities, towns, counties and states. Local mayors are standing strong in CambridgeSomerville and Boston and Arlington is considering taking a stand for sanctuary.

Arguments against Sanctuary have no statistical support

People opposed to sanctuary claim that illegal immigration hurts the local economy. They accuse these sanctuary municipalities of harboring criminals among us.

However, a study by the Center for American Progress shows that sanctuary cities have a lower than average crime rate, higher median incomes, lower poverty rates, and lower unemployment rates.

Among the main findings:

  • There are, on average, 35.5 fewer crimes committed per 10,000 people in sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties.
  • Median household annual income is, on average, $4,353 higher in sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties.
  • The poverty rate is 2.3 percent lower, on average, in sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties.
  • Unemployment is, on average, 1.1 percent lower in sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties.
  • While the results hold true across sanctuary jurisdictions, the sanctuary counties with the smallest populations see the most pronounced effects.

In short, Sanctuary cities, such as Boston, Somerville, and Cambridge have not experienced higher crime rates or economic stress as a result of their not requiring immigration documentation for residents. This allows people here, immigrants, naturalized citizens, and native-born alike, to walk the streets without needing to carry papers to prove that we belong here.


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