Scott Eisen / Getty Images for Open Road Films file
“These bills take valuable and scarce public resources we use to go after very serious criminals and redirects them to go after petty criminals and investigate people’s immigration statuses,” he added. Such measures “only serve to create anxiety,” Elorza continued, “and not just for people here without papers, but lawmakers and officials, too.”
Rhode Island state Rep. Arthur Corvese, a Democrat and the sponsor of two of anti-sanctuary city bills, has repeatedly defended his proposals.
“We have immigration laws for good reason, and it is for the safety of Rhode Islanders that our state should not stand in the way of their proper enforcement,” he
said earlier this year.
Abbott, too, has dismissed criticism of the Texas law —
which is slated to go into effect Sept. 1 but remains tied up in court due to suits from various cities — arguing that it’s simply about public safety.
“My wife is the first Hispanic first lady” of the state,
he told NBC News in May. “They have absolutely nothing to fear. The only people who face any type of consequence are criminals. If you commit a crime and you’re wanted by the federal government, then, yes, you have something to be concerned about. If you haven’t committed a crime, and you’re not wanted by the federal government, you have no concern.”
Critics, however, including law enforcement officials and immigration experts, have warned measures like that actually make their communities less safe because they redirect resources, undermine criminal cases and destroy relationships with marginalized people, including victims and witnesses.
Several recent studies show that crime levels in immigrant communities are significantly lower than those in the general population. One such study, by the
American Immigration Council, a nonprofit immigrant-rights advocacy group, of census data from 1980 to 2013 found that only 1.6 percent of immigrant males ages 18 to 39 were incarcerated, compared to 3.3 percent of native-born males in the same age range.
Immigration hardliners dispute those studies.
“Sanctuary policies create sanctuaries for criminal aliens, period,” said Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and a member of Trump’s voter integrity commission.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP
Adler, the mayor of Austin, said he found the divide between states and their cities on immigration to be the result of partisanship and dysfunction in Washington trickling down to state capitals.
“I look at the federal government, which seems to be so polarized and not able to get anything done,” he said. “And then I look at Austin. It used to be that Austin had its differences with the state Legislature by virtue of Austin just being a progressive place. This year, there seems to be a lot more animosity.”