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Removal Roulette: Secure Communities and Immigration Enforcement in the United States (2008–2012)

Abstract

Secure Communities (SComm) is a federal immigration enforcement program in the United States. The program enjoys support as a nationwide, neutral, and rational vehicle for enforcement. Yet place may make a difference in SComm enforcement outcomes. SComm figures reveal a divergence between places where removals target serious criminals versus places where removals cast a more universal net. Moreover, rates of removals vary greatly by location. Such divergence suggests that stated SComm priorities function less as a dam (as intended) and more as a water mill, whereby federal authorities place as many removable immigrants into removal proceedings as capacity allows. Uneven enforcement can propel a “removal roulette” whereby deportation can hinge on an immigrant detainee’s location and the type of offense committed. The resulting life as provisional existence means trying to stay out of trouble by erring on the side of caution at all times.

Keywords

  • Immigration Enforcement
  • Federal Immigration
  • Enforcement Outcomes
  • Water Mills
  • Universal Enforcement

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    SComm statistics sometimes change slightly over time due to successive updates to arrest and removal data. General trends remain relatively unchanged, especially for enforcement activities completed in the distant past.

  2. 2.

    Delaware and South Dakota have very low removal activity to be included in the targeted enforcement group, each reporting single digit SComm removals per month. Massachusetts is also not included among the targeted enforcement states. Although the percent of top priority removals (as a share of total removals in the state) remains high compared to the national average, the percent of removals for noncriminal offenses falls far above the average.

  3. 3.

    Table 2 excludes South Carolina, which reports top priority removal figures similar to the universal enforcement group. However, the percent of removals for noncriminal offenses in South Carolina falls below the average in the targeted enforcement group.

  4. 4.

    Wyoming and Mississippi are excluded due to small or imprecise population estimates.

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Pedroza, J.M. (2013). Removal Roulette: Secure Communities and Immigration Enforcement in the United States (2008–2012). In: Brotherton, D., Stageman, D., Leyro, S. (eds) Outside Justice. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6648-2_3

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