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UT researcher's study finds sanctuary policies decrease crime

Researcher Marta Ascherio believes the findings are important because sanctuary practices encourage immigrant political integration.

AUSTIN, Texas — University of Texas at Austin researcher Marta Ascherio was drawn to studying sanctuary policies a few years ago. 

“Around 2016, during Trump's campaign, there was all this talk that sanctuary policies protect criminals, so I wanted to look at the data to see is there a link between sanctuary policies and crime,” said Ascherio. 

From 2013-16 she said she analyzed data from almost all 50 states, comparing sanctuary counties to non-sanctuary counties.

“Once counties started to become sanctuary counties, in the way that I measured them, which is declining to cooperate in a federal program, we saw declines in crimes in sanctuary counties, but not in the other counties,” she said.

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Ascherio said she saw decreases in property crimes reported. 

“In sanctuary counties, for each 1% increase in foreign-born Latinos, the property crime decreased by 10%. For each 1% increase in native-born Latinos, there was a 1% decrease in property crime,” she said.

She also found a decrease in violent crime in sanctuary counties. Ascherio has a theory as to why we may be seeing this trend. 

“Basically, in sanctuary policies, immigrants don’t have to worry so much about being safe every day, so you can focus on other things. They free up local community organizers and activists to focus on things that are beneficial to the community,” she said.

She believes the policies encourage immigrant political integration so immigrants don’t have to resort to crime. Ascherio’s study was published in Social Science Research.

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