Crime drops in Phoenix after city drops sanctuary city status, former cops say
June 30, 2017
At the center of national debate, a question remains unanswered: Are sanctuary cities that protect illegal immigrants safer than non-sanctuary cities?
Sanctuary supporters claim they are.
“Police chiefs across the nation believe that enlisting local police to enforce immigration law is a bad idea,” California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon, a Democrat, claimed at a news conference last week. “Having [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] pluck criminals out of jail and send them across the border or wherever they came only to come right back endangers our communities.”
But is that true?
A six-year study published last year by the University of California, Riverside found “violent crime is slightly higher in sanctuary cities.” It concluded there was “no statistically discernible difference in violent crime rates, rape, or property crime across” 55 cities studied.
And at least one city, Phoenix, saw a drop in crime after it eliminated its sanctuary city status, according to former law enforcement officials.
Yet, some 200 cities nationwide adopted sanctuary policies and lawmakers propose to make California a sanctuary state. While the statute is opposed by the statewide county sheriff’s association, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck supports the bill that would prohibit local police from cooperating with ICE requests for information on illegal immigrants in custody.
“We do not want to dilute trust because trust is the most important thing in policing,” said Chief Beck. “We depend on our communities, particularly our immigrant communities to cooperate with us, not only to keep them safe but to keep all of you safe.”
Beck and De Leon were joined by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. They oppose two bills passed Thursday by the House. One measure – named Kate’s law after a young woman who was killed by an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times – stiffens punishment for people who re-enter the US illegally. The other strips some federal dollars from “sanctuary” cities that refuse to cooperate with ICE.
In the eyes of Levi Bolton, executive director to the Arizona Police Association, that would be a mistake. In May 2008, Phoenix reversed itself, becoming a non-sanctuary state. Under the policy, police had full discretion to ask suspects about their immigration status and had the freedom to call ICE.
“We saw a decrease in crime,” said Bolton. “It had a deterrent effect on folks because the risk of discovery went up exponentially when we actually enforced the law.”
Bolton served with Mark Spencer, who spent 25 years patrolling in Phoenix.
“When we eliminated our sanctuary policy back in 2008, we saw crime, violent and stolen vehicles fall by 25 percent,” he recalled. “We saw a 20-year low crime rate. When we were allowed and had the discretion to contact our federal immigration partners, crime fell drastically.”
According to City-Data.com, which collects data from various government agencies, from 2008 to 2009 Phoenix’s murder rate fell 27 percent, robberies by 23 percent, assault by 13 percent, burglaries by 14 percent and theft by 19 percent. The numbers for each category fell the following year as well – albeit by smaller margins.
The bills in Congress still face stiff opposition in the senate, where Sanctuary supporters claim the “reckless” Trump Administration led to a decrease in sexual assault and domestic violence because those who may report such crimes fear deportation.
Under his statewide sanctuary bill, “local police officers will maintain the trust of immigrant communities that has been carefully nurtured,” he claimed, “the trust that is so important to our safety.”
During Friday’s Weekly Address, President Trump stated Kate’s Law and the No Sanctuary For Criminals Act present the choice of, “either vote to save and protect American lives, or vote to shield and comfort criminal aliens who threaten innocent lives – and they’ve been shielded too long.”
Transcript as Follows:
“My fellow Americans,
This week, I was joined at the White House by American families whose loved ones were killed by illegal immigrants.
Many of these illegal immigrants had extensive criminal records and had been repeatedly deported.
Every single one of these deaths was preventable.
These beautiful American lives were stolen because our government refused to do its job. If the government had simply enforced our immigration laws, these Americans would still be alive today.
That is why, since the day I took the oath of office, I have been restoring the enforcement of our immigration laws and the protection and defense of our borders.
These courageous Americans joined me at the White House to call on Congress to pass two bills that I campaigned on during the election. If enacted, these bills will save countless Americans lives. The first bill, Kate’s Law, is named for Kate Steinle, who was killed by an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times. This law will enhance criminal penalties for those who repeatedly re-enter our country illegally.
The second bill, the No Sanctuary For Criminals Act, will block federal grants to jurisdictions that shield dangerous criminal aliens from being turned over to federal law enforcement.
On Thursday, I am glad to report, these two bills passed the House of Representatives. This represents a crucial step toward ensuring our public safety and national security.
I want to thank Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte for his dedicated work on these critical bills, as well as other crucial legislation that will soon be considered as well. I also thank Leadership for advancing these life-saving measures.
I now call on the Senate to take up these bills and send them back to my desk for signature – as soon as possible. We need security. We need safety in our country. And I call on members of both parties to stand united with victims to stop these terrible and senseless crimes from ever happening in the first place.
This legislation presents a simple choice: either vote to save and protect American lives, or vote to shield and comfort criminal aliens who threaten innocent lives – and they’ve been shielded too long.
As we head towards the Fourth of July, we remember now more than ever to cherish our freedom. The foundation of freedom is the rule of law. It forms the bedrock of our Constitution and the cornerstone of our way of life.
So this Independence Day, while we’re enjoying treasured time with our friends and loved ones, let us not forget the families who have an empty seat at the table this year.
And let us pledge that from now on, we will protect, defend and save American lives.
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett