Providing Sanctuary or Fostering Crime? A Review of the Research on 'Sanctuary Cities' and Crime

Sociology Compass, Forthcoming

Posted: 13 Nov 2017

See all articles by Daniel Martinez

Daniel Martinez

University of Arizona - Department of Sociology

Ricardo Martinez-Schuldt

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology

Guillermo Cantor

American Immigration Council

Date Written: November 8, 2017

Abstract

Recent high-profile, isolated incidents of violent crime committed by deportable noncitizens have led to increased public attention paid to so-called “sanctuary” cities, with some policymakers calling for the eradication of policies limiting local officials role in the enforcement of immigration law. This current public and political debate provides an opportunity to critically examine the existing literature on immigrant “sanctuaries.” We begin by offering a broad definition and description of “sanctuary” policies. We follow by discussing how and why such policies have evolved since the early 1980s. Considering the public safety concerns often articulated in contemporary political discourse, we then offer possible sociological explanations regarding how these policies might either be positively or negatively associated with crime. We subsequently highlight findings from existing empirical research that examines the relationship between the adoption or presence of “sanctuary” policies and crime. The few empirical studies that exist illustrate a “null” or negative relationship between these policies and crime. We conclude by offering possible directions for future research.

Suggested Citation

Martinez, Daniel and Martinez-Schuldt, Ricardo and Cantor, Guillermo, Providing Sanctuary or Fostering Crime? A Review of the Research on 'Sanctuary Cities' and Crime (November 8, 2017). Sociology Compass, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3067409

Daniel Martinez (Contact Author)

University of Arizona - Department of Sociology ( email )

United States

Ricardo Martinez-Schuldt

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Sociology ( email )

Chapel Hill, NC
United States

Guillermo Cantor

American Immigration Council ( email )

1331 G St. NW
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20005
United States

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