This project considers the impacts and consequences of non-border policing and immigration enforcement by non-federal law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in the U.S. South. U.S. immigration authorities have historically focused on the U.S.-Mexico border as a priority enforcement site, but today immigration policing extends deep into the U.S. interior. Indeed, since the late 1990s and especially since 2001, non-border policing has emerged as a mainstay of U.S. immigration enforcement. Moreover, experimental federal initiatives to devolve immigration enforcement to non-federal LEAs such as municipal police and county sheriffs through the 287(g) and Secure Communities programs have become standard practice.
The growth of U.S. immigration enforcement in non-border spaces is particularly acute in the U.S. South, which has been fundamentally transformed by the large-scale recruitment of new immigrants into a wide range of labor markets over the past two decades. The 'nuevo New South' comprises a disproportionate share of immigration enforcement initiatives by non-federal LEAs and as such produces a disproportionate share of detention and deportation cases, relative to traditional immigrant destination sites in the U.S. Southwest and Northeast. Critics argue that the devolution of U.S. immigration enforcement in the U.S. South is rolling back new immigrants' civil rights, employment and education opportunities, access to housing, and physical mobility. Despite this is little social science research on non-federal immigration enforcement practices and its effect in the region. This project starts to fill this gap by a) exploring the genesis and mechanics of non-federal immigration in the U.S. South; b) analyzing the effects of 287(g) and Secure Communities on new immigrant populations in the U.S. South; and c) examining the political mobilization of immigrant rights groups in the region in response to non-federal immigration enforcement. The research site comprises all 287(g) and Secure Communities jurisdictions in the Atlanta GA metropolitan statistical area. Methodologically, the project employs archival research, public records analysis and mapping, interviews, and in-depth ethnographic fieldwork with police and immigrant rights groups. The project draws on the PIs' prior fieldwork in the U.S. South on 287(g) and race, immigrant integration, and political mobilization in new immigrant destinations.
This research promises two major contributions. First, it will advance scholarship on local immigration enforcement by providing spatial and ethnographic contexts to 287(g) and Secure Communities enforcement. To date research on this topic has centered on litigation and legislation, and as such does not explain how context, i.e. agency-specific police practices, local legal and political contexts, and community experiences and impacts, shape and are shaped by programs such as 287(g) and Secure Communities. Second, it will also advance scholarship on Latinos in the U.S. South, which is mostly descriptive research on migration patterns and experiences, by exploring the racialized practices related to local immigration enforcement that structure Latinos' social, political, and economic exclusion. The PIs will consider how the historical and contemporary political, economic, and cultural logics of race in the region are shaping and are shaped by the implementation of programs such as 287(g) and Secure Communities, as well as the role of immigrants in challenging and reworking racialized power relations in the region.