Missing in Action: Practice, Paralegality, and the Nature of Immigration Enforcement

Citizenship Studies, published online 18 January 2017

Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 373

39 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2016 Last revised: 24 Jan 2017

Inés Valdez

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science

Mat Coleman

Department of Geography, The Ohio State University

Amna Akbar

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: December 7, 2016

Abstract

U.S. immigration control is typically understood in terms of enforcement practices undertaken by federal officers guided by legislation and court decisions. While legislation and court opinions are important components of the immigration control apparatus, they do not adequately account for immigration control ‘on the ground.’ To explore this problem, we advance the concept of paralegality, the practices and operations that constitute a dynamic system of actions and relationships that are not simply linear applications of legislation or judicial decisions but may in fact extend or counter these texts. We illustrate the importance of paralegality by reconstructing the evolution of the §287(g) and Secure Communities programs, both of which have shape-shifted dramatically since their inception. Our account of immigration control highlights the problem practice poses for law, proposes a theoretical alternative to textual-law-centric research on immigration and law enforcement, and contributes to scholarship on everyday citizenship.

Keywords: immigration, law, enforcement practice, Secure Communities, §287(g)

Suggested Citation

Valdez, Inés and Coleman, Mat and Akbar, Amna, Missing in Action: Practice, Paralegality, and the Nature of Immigration Enforcement (December 7, 2016). Citizenship Studies, published online 18 January 2017; Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 373. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2881944 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2881944

Inés Valdez

Ohio State University (OSU) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Mat Coleman

Department of Geography, The Ohio State University ( email )

1156 Derby Hall, 154 N Oval Ma
154 N Oval Mall
Columbus, OH OH 43210-1361
United States

Amna Akbar (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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