State and Local Immigration Enforcement
Section 287(g) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, enacted in 1996, authorizes the federal government to work with state and local law-enforcement agencies to enforce national immigration laws. This can include screening detainees for immigration status and transferring potential deportees to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement custody.
In 2009 the federal government issued new guidelines asking state and local authorities to concentrate enforcement efforts on individuals considered public safety threats rather than universally screen for suspected undocumented immigrants. A 2011 Migration Policy Institute study, “Delegation and Divergence: A Study of 287(g) State and Local Immigration Enforcement” (PDF), looks at the real-world consequences of the stated shift in enforcement priorities.
The study’s findings include:
- Overall, only 50% of those detained under the 287(g) program had committed serious crimes.
- In jurisdictions that used a targeted-screening approach, 70% of those placed in detainment had committed serious crimes.
- In jurisdictions that continued to use the universal-screening approach, over 80% of detainees had only committed a misdemeanor or traffic violation.
- The cost for detainment is high, with an average length of 81 days in detention at a cost of $60 per day, or nearly $5,000.
- Communities where law enforcement officials continued to use the universal-screening approach reacted negatively. The result was an increased distrust of authorities and a shift of Hispanic populations to jurisdictions that used a targeted approach.
Because of the negative consequences and limited effectiveness of universal screening, the study’s researchers recommended that use of the targeted model be federally enforced across all state and local jurisdictions.
Tags: California, crime, Hispanic, Latino, race
Read the study-related New York Times article titled "Napolitano Accuses Critics of Politicizing Border Issues."
- Reporter's use of the study: Evaluate what the reporter chose to include and exclude from the study. Would the audience have acquired a clear understanding of the study's findings and limits from this article?
- Reporter's use of other material: Assess the material in the article that is not derived from the study. (for example: Does the reporter place the study in the context of other research and to what effect? Does the reporter include reactions to the study from other researchers or interested parties [e.g., political groups business leaders, or community members] and are their credentials or possible biases made clear?)
Read the full study titled "Delegation and Divergence: A Study of 287(g) State and Local Immigration Enforcement" (PDF).
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.