Sanctuary Cities, Border Crisis Costs, and a Rude Awakening for the Left

COMMENTARY Immigration

Sanctuary Cities, Border Crisis Costs, and a Rude Awakening for the Left

Sep 9, 2022 2 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Erin Dwinell

Senior Research Associate, Border Security and Immigration

Erin is a senior research associate in the Border Security and Immigration Center at The Heritage Foundation.
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announces new resources for migrants being bused to the District from Texas and Arizona in Washington, D.C. on September 08, 2022. Craig Hudson / The Washington Post / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

Sanctuary cities like Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago are sagging under the weight of the cost required to support these new arrivals.

Last year in New York, a $2.1 billion state fund paying unemployment and stimulus benefits to illegal aliens was exhausted in just three months.

The Biden administration and the left must reverse its open-border agenda. For the good of their cities, Bowser and Adams should lead the charge.

Record numbers of illegal immigrants are entering the country illegally and spreading throughout the interior of United States—and it’s playing out in a sadly predictable way.

Sanctuary cities like Washington, D.C., New York City and Chicago are sagging under the weight of the cost required to support these new arrivals. Now their mayors are complaining about it, apparently surprised that their poor policies have played out, well … poorly.

Of course, border communities have been hit even harder by this problem. They’ve been struggling to cope with it for years. The difference is that they are suffering due to their geographic location, not because of policies they’ve adopted. But their problems have increased dramatically since the Biden administration implemented its open-border policies.

Those policies are expensive, imposing tens of billions of dollars in costs on state and local governments and U.S. taxpayers every year. Increasingly, those costs are incurred by states nowhere near the southwest border.

>>> Of Migrants and Mayors, Busloads and Budgets

Last year, a special committee found that taxpayers in Tennessee spend an extra $3.9 million per year to educate unaccompanied alien children in public schools and another $240,000 to provide them with state-funded health care.

Florida, too, has raised concerns over the cost of illegal immigration. Even before the Biden-inspired surge across the border, the state was paying $2 billion per year to provide health care and education for the nearly 800,000 illegal aliens living there.

Other services drain public purses, as well. Last year in New York, a $2.1 billion state fund paying unemployment and stimulus benefits to illegal aliens was exhausted in just three months

Last year, Philadelphia elected to budget $300,000 to publicly fund immigration attorneys for aliens facing deportation. The New York City Council budgeted $16.6 million the same year for the same purpose. Local taxpayers there should expect actual costs to exceed those budgets, as the numbers of illegal aliens, cases and appeals continue to rise.

Certainly, that’s been the case in Chicago, a city that continually increases its funding for its Legal Protection Fund and refuses to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement access to police databases and information.

And then there are the costs associated with crime. Crimes committed by illegal aliens had been declining for years before Biden opened the borders. Since then, those numbers have skyrocketed in virtually every category of crime, from homicide and manslaughter to robbery and theft, from trafficking in drugs and weapons to sexual offenses.

Southern border governors are now bussing some illegal immigrants to New York City, Washington and Chicago, giving the mayors of those unashamedly pro-open borders and sanctuary cities a taste of what they’ve had to deal with for years.

And the mayors don’t like it a bit. New York City’s Eric Adams calls the situation there “horrific.”

“We need help,” pleads D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

This is typical of many on the left. They push for a supposedly compassionate, globalist utopia. Then, when reality sets in and their pie in the sky agenda comes crashing down, they cry for help and bailouts.

>>> Congress Should Reject Biden Administration’s Asylum Rule and Ruin

Adams and Bowser are right on track. They are scrambling to find others to fix the mess their party’s open-border policies—and their own sanctuary city policies—have created.

It has never been clearer: The border crisis is not just a border town issue. We face an unprecedented, all-encompassing national security, fentanyl, crime and economic crisis that is seeping into every single state and community across the nation.

The crisis is not only unsustainable, it’s dangerous. The urgent first step is to cut off the flow of illegal aliens at the border, so we can get our heads above water before it’s too late.

The Biden administration and the left must reverse its open-border agenda. For the good of their cities, Bowser and Adams should lead the charge.

This piece originally appeared in The Sacramento Bee