The Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and the Economy

Report Author: 
Tom K. Wong
Original Date of Publication: 
2017 Jan

In one of his first acts as president, Donald Trump issued an executive order that would, among other things, punish "sanctuary jurisdictions." The order included a directive to the Secretary of Homeland Security to put out reports to "better inform the public regarding the public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions." Do these jurisdictions threaten public safety?  This report from the Center for American Progress compares crime rates in "nonsanctuary" versus "sanctuary" counties -- the latter defined as counties that do not honor requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold an immigrant beyond his or her release date. The report finds "that there are, on average, 35.5 fewer crimes per 10,000 people in sanctuary counties -- a result that is highly statistically significant." The report also looks at a number of economic indicators. It finds that median household income is higher in sanctuary counties, poverty is lower, use of public assistance is lower, the labor force participation rate is higher and unemployment is lower. It may be hard to say that the better outcomes produced in "sanctuary" counties are because of the effort to separate law enforcement from immigration enforcement. But it is clear from the report that there is no evidence to show that there are greater "public safety threats associated with sanctuary jurisdictions." (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)

View the report here. 

Get more information from the Center for American Progress. 


Wong, T. (2017). The Effects of Sanctuary Policies on Crime and the Economy. Washington DC: The Center for American Progress. Available here:


Source Organization: 
Center for American Progress