Attorney General Jeff Session says “sanctuary cities,” a term with no clear legal definition, are safe harbors for violent international cartels, putting “innocent life, including the lives of countless law-abiding immigrants, in danger.” Yet murder totals last year went up dramatically in many cities that cooperate with the feds on immigration. Immigration advocates say this means the attorney general is overstating the impact of ending “sanctuary city” policies as a way to fight violent crime, The Daily Beast reports. “Sanctuary cities are not connected to the 2016 increase in crime in some cities despite Attorney General Sessions’s ill-informed comments to the contrary,” said Alex Nowrasteh of the libertarian Cato Institute. “Many of the cities with the biggest increase in crime are not sanctuary cities. There is no evidence that increased immigration enforcement reduces crime on the local level, thus there should be no increase in crime rates when cities reduce cooperation with the feds.”
The Justice Department says that’s incorrect. “There are many drivers of crime in America and sanctuary cities are a part of that,” said DOJ spokesman Ian Prior. At least six cities had record-high murder totals last year: Anchorage, Ak.; Fort Wayne, In; Durham, N.C.; Indianapolis; Louisville, and Memphis. None is a sanctuary city. Six cities had murder jumps that Jeff Asher of FiveThirtyEight called “alarming”: Chicago, Memphis, San Antonio, Louisville, Phoenix, and Las Vegas. Two of those cities—Chicago and Las Vegas—could be characterized as “sanctuary cities,” though Las Vegas disputes that. The other four cities are very cooperative with the feds.