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Estimating the Effects of Immigration Enforcement on Local Policing and Crime: Evidence from the Secure Communities Program

Final version published as "Immigration Enforcement, Policing, and Crime: Evidence from the Secure Communities Program," Criminology and Public Policy 13(2): 285-322 (2014)

George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 14-09

52 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2014 Last revised: 23 Apr 2015

Elina Treyger

George Mason University School of Law

Aaron Chalfin

University of Cincinnati - School of Criminal Justice

Charles Loeffler

University of Pennsylvania

Date Written: December 2, 2013

Abstract

Recent changes in U.S. immigration enforcement have sought to complement strong border enforcement with a renewed emphasis on enforcement in the country’s interior. In 2008, the federal government introduced “Secure Communities,” a program that requires local law enforcement agencies to share arrestee information with federal immigration officials at the time of booking. Supporters of the program have argued that it will enhance public safety by facilitating the efficient removal of criminal aliens. Critics of the program have expressed concern that it will encourage local law enforcement agencies to engage in discriminatory or arbitrary policing practices, making arrests for the sole purpose of checking an individual’s immigration status. Since its introduction in 2008, the program has expanded to include all U.S. jurisdictions. We employ the staggered activation dates of Secure Communities across counties to examine whether the program has a detectable effect on the crime rates or the arrest behavior of municipal law enforcement agencies across U.S. cities. We do not observe any clear effect of the program on either crime or arrest patterns, suggesting that at least across the nation’s biggest cities, there is little evidence either for the most ambitious promises of the program or the greatest fears behind involving local law enforcement agencies in immigration enforcement.

Keywords: immigration, crime, federalism, police, secure communities

JEL Classification: K37, K42, H77

Suggested Citation

Treyger, Elina and Chalfin, Aaron and Loeffler, Charles, Estimating the Effects of Immigration Enforcement on Local Policing and Crime: Evidence from the Secure Communities Program (December 2, 2013). Final version published as "Immigration Enforcement, Policing, and Crime: Evidence from the Secure Communities Program," Criminology and Public Policy 13(2): 285-322 (2014); George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 14-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2386330 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2386330

Elina Treyger (Contact Author)

George Mason University School of Law ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Aaron Chalfin

University of Cincinnati - School of Criminal Justice ( email )

600 Dyer Hall
P.O. Box 210389
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0389
United States

HOME PAGE: http://achalfin.weebly.com

Charles Loeffler

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

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