Being a ‘Sanctuary City’ Really Does Make San Francisco Safer
Another senseless gun homicide has finally provoked national outrage for reform, because this time it was a Mexican guy who shot the gun. The national conversation turned against San Francisco this week as a sanctuary city policy in effect here since 1989 has been widely blamed for the July 1 killing of 32-year-old Kate Steinle at Pier 14. The most prominent critics of this policy do not realize that they also live in sanctuary cities, and this law is not specific to San Francisco. More than 200 American cities have the same sanctuary policy, and San Francisco has a much lower violent crime rate than most cities its size. San Francisco is not even in the top US 100 cities for violent crime. Yet the whole goddamned country, led by such luminaries as Donald Trump and Bill O’Reilly, is blaming our sanctuary policy.
The “mayor and city supervisors of San Francisco are directly responsible for the murder of Kate Steinle”, said Bill O’Reilly, referring to last week’s tragic killing. I would say the federal agent whose loaded gun somehow ended up publicly available on Pier 14 might be more directly responsible, but what do I know, I’m not paid to talk shit on FOX News.
I hate to agree with Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, the guy who false-imprisoned his wife but defends sanctuary status, and I don’t understand the Battlestar Galactica uniform he has now taken to wearing constantly. But his defense of the policy is far stronger than Mayor Ed Lee, who is backpedaling like fuck in the face of his first real crisis. Hillary Clinton backed off supporting the exact same policy she’d previously defended, as has Dianne Feinstein. This is presumably because of outrage fueled by people like Trump and O’Reilly — both of whom also live in sanctuary cities. In fact, New York City’s sanctuary city law was in–part written by Rudy Guiliani.
“When I was mayor of New York City, I inherited a policy from Ed Koch, which I should say I was part of developing,” Guiliani said on Hannity, at which point Hannity was rather less than pleased.
The meaning of “sanctuary city” differs from city to city. But in San Francisco (as in general) it means that police won’t ask your immigration status if you’re giving them information and the city will only turn you over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] with a court order or warrant. This makes many police investigations run more smoothly, as immigrants are much more willing to cooperate with cops.
San Francisco’s reasons for being a sanctuary city are echoed by International Association of Chiefs of Police policy. “Local police agencies depend on the cooperation of immigrants, legal and illegal, in solving all sorts of crimes and in the maintenance of public order,” their policy paper says. “Without assurances that they will not be subject to an immigration investigation and possible deportation, many immigrants with critical information would not come forward, even when heinous crimes are committed against them or their families. Because many families with undocumented family members also include legal immigrant members, this would drive a potential wedge between police and huge portions of the legal immigrant community as well. “
The stereotype that immigrants commit more crimes is demonstrably false. “Immigrants are less likely than the native-born to be criminals,” says an American Immigration Council report released this week (from which I stole the graphic above). “1.6 percent of immigrant males age 18-39 are incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of the native-born. This disparity in incarceration rates has existed for decades, as evidenced by data from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 decennial censuses. In each of those years, the incarceration rates of the native-born were anywhere from two to five times higher than that of immigrants.”
If you genuinely feel bad for Kate Heinle and her family, please consider funding her family’s GoFundMe page for funeral costs and provisions of support. But do not use a one-off act of violence with a fed’s loaded gun left available to the public at large to undermine a proven-successful crime prevention policy.
If you haven’t seen Broke-Ass Stuart’s article in yesterday’s SF Examiner on this topic, it is a powerhouse read. “Why, then, are we allowing the national media to tell us that, despite guns being the one single thing linking 25,233 shootings this year, undocumented immigrants are the cause of the problem?,” our patron saint asks.