A Safe Place for Undocumented Immigrants

1 min read

In 1979, Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Chief Daryl Gates implemented Special Order 40, preventing LAPD officers from “[initiating] police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person.” This command made Los Angeles the first sanctuary city. The idea of a sanctuary city, one that does not deport illegal immigrants solely for their immigration status, spread quickly. There are now 31 American cities that call themselves sanctuary cities, including San Francisco, Oakland, Chicago, and Washington D.C.

Sanctuary cities decrease violent crime rates and increase public trust in police forces; a University of Illinois study of perception of law enforcement in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Phoenix found people living in sanctuary cities have a more positive perception of law enforcement officers. In non-sanctuary cities, 7.5 percent more Latinos, a group notoriously targeted for illegal immigration, felt afraid to leave their house because of police involvement with immigration. The study also showed that sanctuary cities have higher rates of cooperation with police. Latinos in the study claimed to be afraid to report crimes to police far more in cities with active deportation. As a result, they would refuse to report all crimes, even those unrelated to immigration. Because of this, many Latinos surveyed by the study feel that criminals are able to move in to these areas because they go unreported.When the police deport undocumented immigrants for reporting crime, crime rates rise because people will stop reporting crimes to ensure their own safety. Not only are undocumented immigrants afraid to report criminals, but Latinos who are in the country legally are also afraid of police questioning.

Some politicians, such as Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, and Rand Paul, use crimes committed by immigrants as a reason to crack down on immigration policy, claiming that immigrants bring violent crime to America. Despite recent high-profile crimes committed by illegal immigrants, studies have shown that immigrants are convicted of approximately half the crimes per capita compared to American-born people. Furthermore, according to 2010 US Census data, American-born men without a high school diploma are four times more likely to commit violent crime than immigrants with the same education. As a result, immigrants actually lower the rate of violent crime per capita. Sanctuary cities are, therefore, safer places.

My name is Julian Zucker. I’m a senior and this is my first year doing journalism. I am the treasurer for M-A’s debate club. I also volunteer for a summer camp, as an Operations Specialist. I rowed freshman through junior year, but had to give it up because of a back injury.

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