University of Wisconsin–Madison

The Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and the Economy

Type Policy Brief or Report
Year 2017
Level County
State(s) All States
Policy Areas Children & Families, Civil Rights, Democracy & Governance, Economic Justice, Finance & Procurement, Housing, Public Safety
As the Trump administration begins to implement its immigration policy agenda the issue of local assistance with federal immigration enforcement officials is back in the spotlight. So-called sanctuary jurisdictions are one focus of that debate. Sanctuary counties - as defined by this report - are counties that do not assist federal immigration enforcement officials by holding people in custody beyond their release date. Using an Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, dataset obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center the analyses in this report provide new insights about how sanctuary counties perform across a range of social and economic indicators when compared to nonsanctuary counties. To understand the effects of having a sanctuary policy, we statistically match counties based on a broad range of demographic characteristics and then compare sanctuary counties to nonsanctuary counties to better understand the effects that sanctuary policies have on a local jurisdiction. The data are clear: Crime is statistically significantly lower in sanctuary counties compared to nonsanctuary counties. Moreover 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.

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