ICE’s Sanctuary City Crackdown Is Likely to Be Both Ineffective and Costly

Immigration and Customs Enforcement has announced plans to conduct large-scale arrests in three sanctuary jurisdictions in the upcoming weeks. This move signals a tough-on-immigration commitment to the president’s supporters right before the election. But not only is this push unlikely to make us any safer, it could do just the opposite—all while costing us a lot of money.

Unfortunately, history reveals a troubling pattern with who ICE arrests and removes from the country’s interior: They don’t focus on the most dangerous offenders. 

Unauthorized immigrants with no criminal convictions make up 48 percent of all removals since 2003, by far the largest category. The second-largest category of removals—27 percent—includes less serious convictions, like illegal entry and traffic offenses. That means that 75 percent of ICE removals in the last 17 years have been of individuals convicted of either no crime, or of a less serious one. 

Meanwhile, 19 percent of removals are for the most serious criminal conviction category. Yet even this category includes non-violent crimes, like fraud and selling drugs. Taking out the most numerous nonviolent offenses leaves about 10 percent of ICE removals for violent crimes.

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