In a December address, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reported that: “…violent crime is up in many places across the country. Last week, the Department released its annual National Crime Victimization Survey. It shows that the rate of Americans victimized by violent crime is up more than 13 percent… As Attorney General, I have ordered our prosecutors to renew their focus on immigration offenses—specifically where those criminals have a gang nexus, cartel, or violent crime offense… we must also recognize that transnational gangs like MS-13 have taken advantage of our porous Southern Border and previously lax immigration law enforcement…In recent years, our immigration system has been overwhelmed. The caseload has tripled since fiscal 2009 and doubled since fiscal 2012.As the backlog of immigration cases grew out of control, the previous administration simply closed nearly 200,000 pending immigration court cases without a final decision in just five years—more than were closed in the previous 22 years combined.”
Supporters of sanctuary policies insist that their goal is to make their jurisdictions more welcoming to illegals. That may well be the case, but what impact does that “welcome” have on legal residents?
David Benfiel, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle points out some nongovernmental impacts of California’s sheltering 2.3 million illegal immigrants:
- Competition for affordable housing: 1.5 million Californians pay more than half their income for housing, a result of overcrowding.
- More than 20 million tons of greenhouse gases are added each year by undocumented residents. California’s annual per-capita carbon dioxide production is 10 metric tons/per person.
- Competition for low-wage jobs is increased. Middle-income employers can pay lower wages.
- Allowing illegal immigrants to live and drive contributes to wasted time in traffic and greenhouse gas production.
- English language learners in the classroom lower academic performance by diverting limited educational resources. California has almost 1.4 million English language learners,and has the highest student/teacher ratio of all the large states. California scores lower than average for the nation in reading, mathematics and science.
The impact on the state budget of harboring illegals is extraordinary. Spencer Morris, writing for the National Economics Editorial notes that illegals costs California $30.29 billion a year—17.7 % of the state budget. “…many of these costs are absorbed by local jurisdictions and the federal government, but the drain on the State of California remains significant. As such, the question is no longer whether California ought to allow illegal immigration—it’s whether the State can afford it. Illegal immigration is expensive: two recent studies from the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the National Economics Editorial peg the annual cost of illegal immigration to America between $135 and $140 billion. And of all the states, California bears the largest burden due to its sizable illegal population.”
The extreme measures adopted by California to protect illegals was highlighted in June, when, notes Jazmine Ulloa in the L.A. Times, “California state lawmakers approved $45 million in a state budget plan to expand legal services for immigrants… With the additional money, providers will now also be able to help immigrants fighting deportation or removal proceedings.”
How are Californians reacting to the largesse of their state leaders on this and other matters, and to the resulting high taxes, overcrowded schools, increased crime, and escalating housing prices? Joel Kotkin and Wendell Cox discussed that in the Orange County Register: “In 2016, some 26,000 more people left the Bay Area than arrived. San Francisco net migration went from a high of 16,000 positive in 2013 to 12,000 negative three years later…Similar patterns have occurred across the state. [California’s outmigration] surged last year to nearly 110,000. Losses in the Los Angeles-Orange County area have gone from 42,000 in 2011 to 88,000 this year. San Diego… is now losing around 8,000 net migrants annually… Some so-called progressives hail these trends, as forcing what they seem to see as less desirable elements — that is, working- and middle-class people — out of the state… the largest group of outmigrants tends to be middle-aged people making between $100,000 and $200,000 annually… Indeed, since 2010, the Golden State has seen an overall net outflow of $36 billion from these migrants (and that counts only the first year of income). The biggest gainers from this exchange are where Californians are moving, to such places as Texas, Arizona and Nevada. That some California employers are joining them in the same places should be something of a two-minute warning for state officials…”
Aside from the issues of crime and cost, there are two fundamental questions that state or city elected officials who adopt sanctuary policies are obligated to answer. First, what constitutional authorization do they claim for nullifying or ignoring laws that are specifically and clearly the jurisdiction of the federal government? Second, if even a minority of their constituents object, what right do state and local officials have to use tax dollars to fund a cause that does not benefit, and has even been demonstrated to harm, those legally residing within their jurisdiction?