Deportation Discretion: Tiered Influence, Minority Threat, and ‘Secure Communities’ Deportations
30 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2015 Last revised: 10 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 9, 2017
As deportations from the United States rose to unprecedented levels, a nationwide immigration enforcement program (Secure Communities) helped identify deportable noncitizens under arrest in county jails. The program did not take place on neutral ground. This paper tests and extends immigration policy research by examining how county officials in some locations facilitated exceptionally restrictive deportation outcomes while others exercised the discretion to turn noncitizens over for deportation sparingly. Consistent with a hypothesized ‘tiered influence’ relationship, but contrary to a ‘racial threat’ hypothesis, Hispanic concentration predicts the highest levels of exercised discretion where Hispanic concentration is neither too small nor too large. Noncitizens under arrest seem to have benefited from above-average Hispanic concentrations, except in majority-Hispanic counties typically located in southwestern states.
Keywords: immigration, Hispanic, deportation, unauthorized, enforcement
JEL Classification: F22, J78
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation