LMU Newsroom

More than two-thirds of Los Angeles County residents support the idea of making their hometown a “sanctuary city” where undocumented immigrants could be shielded from deportation, according to a survey conducted by Loyola Marymount University researchers.

Forty percent of those surveyed said they “strongly support” a sanctuary city where they live, with 28 percent saying they “somewhat support” the idea. Among opponents, 15 percent said they “somewhat oppose” a sanctuary city in their town, and 17 percent “strongly oppose.”

“With such a high level of support for sanctuary cities, ICE’s enforcement would be more difficult. In our survey people are sending a clear message that ICE is not welcome here,” said Fernando Guerra, professor of political science and director of the study.

The question was one of dozens asked by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles as part of its Forecast LA conference, which includes a wide-ranging survey of Angelenos about the region’s economic outlook and political climate. The conference will be held at LMU on April 19.

The issue has been at the forefront of national politics since President Trump not only promised to increase deportations of undocumented immigrants, but also threatened to cut off funding to sanctuary cities.

There is no clear definition of what a sanctuary city is, but Los Angeles and many other cities in California have refused to assist efforts to identify undocumented immigrants for deportation, such as holding them after they’ve served jail sentences or allowing local police to question residents about their immigration status.

The survey found Latino respondents were the strongest backers of sanctuary cities: 84 percent said they strongly or somewhat supported the idea. African Americans were at 67 percent, and Asian Americans had 57 percent support. White respondents were nearly split, with 51 percent supporting and 49 percent opposing.

“We found as the generations get younger, the support increases,” said StudyLA Associate Director Brianne Gilbert. “While all generations were supportive of their city being a sanctuary city, millennials were the most supportive, at 74 percent.”

The survey was conducted by telephone and online in January and February, among 1,200 Los Angeles city residents and 1,200 residents in the rest of the county. The margin of error is +/- 3.0 percent.