The Politics of Immigration Control in the United States: Explaining Local Cooperation with Federal Immigration Authorities
34 Pages Posted: 29 May 2010 Last revised: 7 Mar 2011
Date Written: May 27, 2010
This paper aims to improve our understanding of emerging patterns of interior immigration control in the United States by examining local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration authorities under the 287(g) program. While several recent studies have drawn attention to the shifting terrain of immigration enforcement away from borders into the interior, few have attempted to systematically explain reasons for this shift. Using a county-level dataset of all counties in the United States, this study finds that local decisions to engage in immigration control efforts are not driven by crime, as proponents of the 287(g) program contend. Rather they are driven by political factors, particularly a county’s partisan composition, and demographic pressures. The evidence suggests that cooperation under the 287(g) program is an administrative response to managerial challenges and political pressures county officials face as the financial costs of detaining undocumented immigrants increases. These pressures are more pronounced in Republican majority counties and grow more acute as the Hispanic/Latino population in a county grows.
Keywords: Politics of Immigration, 287(g), ICE, Immigration Control and Enforcement
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