While the nation’s top sanctuary cities take special care to protect illegal immigrants from deportation, they are losing one of their most valuable resources: millennials.
In his first week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order withholding federal funding for sanctuary cities, and ultimately punishing them for defying federal immigration laws. As expected, the elected officials of these cities aren’t too happy about the action, and are doubling down. Many are fighting back with lawsuits, including San Francisco and Seattle, but no one is talking about the millennials living and working in these cities “legally,” who are finding it difficult to stick around.
San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle are some of the most attractive cities for 18-to-39 year-olds, providing jobs, nightlife and exciting opportunities for young professionals. Unfortunately, as illegal immigrants find support from government programs in these areas, “legal” millennials are being priced out by the high cost of living. This mass exodus of millennials is gradually stunting local growth.
In Los Angeles, one out of five city residents are illegal immigrants. This sanctuary city actually prohibits police from apprehending or questioning persons about their immigration status. Following President Trump’s election, the County of Los Angeles even committed $5 million to help illegal immigrants, including criminal aliens, fight deportation.
While illegals are given special rights and privileges in the “City of Angels,” millennials are being squeezed out. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Los Angeles has one of the greatest declines in millennial residents from 2005 to 2015 in the nation. Faced with stagnant income growth and the high cost of living, the city’s millennial population decreased by 7.4 percent in a period of 10 years.
The economic climate is even worse for millennials in San Francisco. One of America’s first sanctuary cities (dating back to the ‘80s), San Francisco’s leadership continues to prioritize illegals over its own residents. San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has vowed to protect illegal immigrants from deportation, but hasn’t seemed too concerned with the potential loss of millennial workers from the city’s workforce. The business-backed Bay Area Council found that 46 percent of millennials want to leave the Bay Area “in the next few years,” blaming the high cost of living, housing issues, homelessness and poverty/crime for their dissatisfaction.
Meanwhile, in Seattle, a recent poll shows that 45 percent of millennials in the region think they will need to move to a cheaper area to afford the lifestyle they want. Local home prices and rents have increased by more than 40 percent in the last four years, and corporate salaries in this key business center aren’t enough to keep millennials from cutting loose.
In all three of these sanctuary cities – and others like them – politicians have forgotten about the young workers that keep their economies vibrant. Rather than focusing on workforce housing and reducing crime to retain their millennial workforce, they are instead investing their resources on illegal immigrants, and they are raising taxes to fund it.
A 2013 study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform found that illegal aliens cost U.S. taxpayers $1,117 per household, and the bulk of these costs are absorbed at the state and local level. This means businesses are forced to cut back on payroll, hence the lack of jobs and stagnant income levels for millennials in these areas.
Sanctuary cities are robbing millennials of their chance at the American Dream, while shielding and giving preferential treatment to illegal immigrants. Unless they change course soon, these lawbreaking cities will be forced to die a slow, painful death as millennials seek refuge in other, more hospitable cities.