RELEASE: In Sanctuary Counties, Crime is Significantly Lower and Economies are Stronger Than in Comparable Nonsanctuary Ones, Says New CAP-NILC Report

Washington, D.C. — In one of the first systematic analyses comparing sanctuary counties to nonsanctuary counties across a range of social and economic indicators, a report released jointly today by the Center for American Progress and the National Immigration Law Center finds that crime is statistically significantly lower in sanctuary counties compared to nonsanctuary counties. The report also finds that economies are stronger in sanctuary counties, with higher median household income, less poverty, less reliance on public assistance, higher labor force participation, higher employment-to-population ratios, and lower unemployment.

The data in the report support arguments made by law enforcement executives that communities are safer when law enforcement agencies do not become entangled in federal immigration enforcement efforts and instead focus on keeping families safe and together. Data analyzed for the report also show that when counties protect all of their residents, they see significant economic gains.

“Purported links between sanctuary policies and crime are simply not supported by the evidence,” said Tom K. Wong, associate professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego, and author of the report. “Rather, what the data suggest is that by keeping out of federal immigration enforcement, sanctuary counties are keeping families together, and when households remain intact and individuals can continue contributing, local economies are strengthened, bringing benefits to the economy as a whole.”

Main findings included in the report:

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

Read the full report here (also available en Español here)

For more information or to speak to an expert on this topic, please contact Tanya Arditi from CAP at tarditi@americanprogress.org or Juan Gastelum from NILC at gastelum@nilc.org.