Opinion: Despite What Fox News Says, Sanctuary Cites Are Safer

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers detain a suspect as they conduct a targeted enforcement operation in Los Angeles. Photo by Charles Reed/U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via REUTERS

By Raoul Lowery Contreras

Fox News Channel broadcasts to the largest cable news audience in America, so is it any wonder that many people in Southern California accept the network’s crusade against so-called “sanctuary” cities — even if it’s wrong?

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions has declared war on cities that don’t cooperate with federal agencies on illegal aliens. His definition of a “sanctuary” city is a jurisdiction that refuses to cooperate with federal agencies in handing over illegal aliens directly from jail when they make bail or finish their sentences. He threatens loss of Department of Justice funding.

The poster child of Sessions’ move against sanctuary cities is San Francisco. Why? Former Fox News Channel star Bill O’Reilly put San Francisco in his cross hairs after a many-times-deported Mexican accidentally shot and killed a beautiful young American woman.

O’Reilly left Fox in disgrace, but his crusade lives on as successors continue to pound sanctuary cities by claiming that they are hotbeds of violent crime. Fox show hosts emotionally claim that sanctuary cities lead American cities in violent crimes. They claim they have a study from UC Riverside that crime in Phoenix actually fell when it rescinded its sanctuary city status.

Is that true? Are sanctuary cities more crime-ridden than non-sanctuary cities? Is Phoenix a nirvana of less crime after junking sanctuary status? What about Los Angeles and San Diego, which are sanctuary cities?

The study in question was conducted by Loren Collingwood, Benjamin Gonzalez-O’Brien and Stephen El-Khatib. It was a joint project by UC Riverside and Highline College of Des Moines, IA.

The “sanctuary” definition they used: “a city or police department that has passed a resolution or ordinance expressly forbidding city or law enforcement officials from inquiring into immigration status and/or cooperation with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).” Los Angeles and San Diego fit that definition.

The study examined the facts: the FBI statistics for violent crimes in 2000 and 2013. Here’s what the researchers found:

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1. Phoenix, the city in which Fox News hosts claim violent crime has fallen after it retracted its sanctuary city status.

  • Violent crimes (2000) 9,754, (2013) 9,492 – minus 2.7 percent
  • Murder (2000) 152, (2013) 118 — minus 22 percent
  • Rape (2000) 422, (2013) 635 — plus 50 percent
  • Robbery (2000) 3,763, (2013) 3,233 — minus 14 percent
  • Aggravated assault (2000) 5,417, (2013) 5,506 — plus 1.6 percent

2. Los Angeles, the sanctuary city with the largest undocumented alien population, mostly Mexican, Salvadoran and Guatemalan.

  • Violent crimes (2000) 50,242, (2013) 16,524 —  minus 67 percent
  • Murder (2000) 550, (2013) 251 —  minus 54 percent
  • Rape (2000) 1,459, (2013) 764 — minus 48 percent
  • Robbery (2000) 15,527, (2013) 7,885 — minus 49 percent
  • Aggravated Assault (2000) 32,705, (2013) 7,624 — minus 77 percent

3. San Diego, the largest border city and, with Tijuana, the largest border metropolitan region in the world with almost 6 million people.

  • Violent crimes (2000) 7,160, (2013) 5,303 — minus 26 percent
  • Murder (2000) 54, (2013) 39 — minus 28 percent
  • Rape (2000) 349, (2013) 316 —  minus 9.5 percent
  • Robbery (2000) 1,777, (2013) 1,456 — minus 18 percent
  • Aggravated Assault (2000) 4,980, (2013) 3,492 — minus 30 percent

Fox News hosts notwithstanding, Phoenix — despite cancelling its sanctuary city status — has experienced an increase in some violent crimes while Los Angeles and San Diego (with a combined population of over 5 million and many illegal aliens) have experienced plunging violent crime totals across the board. Those are the facts.

Here is more proof Fox News hosts have no idea of what they speak on crime and illegal aliens. Dividing crimes by population, we find Los Angeles’ violent crime rate is 0.43 incidents per hundred people, and property crime 2.21 per hundred. San Diego’s rate is 0.39 incidents per hundred for violent crimes and 2.35 for property crimes.

Detroit with very, very few undocumented aliens has a much higher crime rate: 2.07 violent crime incidents per hundred people — five times the rate for Los Angeles and San Diego — and 5.83 property crimes. Philadelphia’s rate is 1.1 violent crimes per hundred people with 3.44 property crimes — double the Southern California numbers.

Facts destroy Fox News host’s assertions that sanctuary cities have higher crime rates than non-sanctuary cities. The authors of the study these “hosts” wave around agree:

“Our findings provide evidence that sanctuary policies have no effect on crime rates, despite narratives to the contrary.” In reality, Los Angeles and San Diego show illegal aliens present in the population in large numbers apparently lower crime rates — dramatically.


Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant and the author of “The Armenian Lobby & American Foreign Policy” and “The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade.” His work has appeared in the New American News Service of the New York Times Syndicate.

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