Does Immigration Enforcement Reduce Crime? Evidence from 'Secure Communities'

Posted: 27 Aug 2014 Last revised: 23 Aug 2017

See all articles by Thomas J. Miles

Thomas J. Miles

University of Chicago - Law School

Adam B. Cox

New York University School of Law

Date Written: August 21, 2014


Prior research investigates whether immigrants commit more crimes than native-born people. Yet the central policy used to regulate immigration—de- tention and deportation—has received little empirical evaluation. is article studies a recent policy innovation called Secure Communities. is program permits the federal government to check the immigration status of every person arrested by local police and to take the arrestee into federal custody promptly for deportation proceedings. Since its launch, the program has led to a quarter of a million detentions. We utilize the staggered rollout of the program across the country to obtain di erences-in-di erences estimates of its impact on crime rates. We also use unique counts of the detainees from each county and month to estimate the elasticity of crime with respect to con ned immigrants. e re- sults show that the Secure Communities program has had no observable e ect on the overall crime rate.

Paper available at:

Keywords: immigration, crime, deportation, secure communities

JEL Classification: K42, K37, K14, J15

Suggested Citation

Miles, Thomas J. and Cox, Adam B., Does Immigration Enforcement Reduce Crime? Evidence from 'Secure Communities' (August 21, 2014). 57 Journal of Law and Economics 937 (November 2014), University of Chicago Coase-Sandor Institute for Law & Economics Research Paper No. 705, U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 490, NYU School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 14-54, NYU Law and Economics Research Paper No. 14-25, Available at SSRN:

Thomas J. Miles (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Adam B. Cox

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

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