Removal Roulette: Does Place Matter for Predicting Deportation Rates under Secure Communities?

Juan M. Pedroza, Stanford University

As deportations from the U.S. have risen, county jails have become a key stage where authorities address immigration challenges. In recent years, local entities have undertaken unprecedented action to address such challenges, including controversial steps to investigate immigrants’ legal status. Do local immigration initiatives shape federal immigration enforcement outcomes? Across the country, federal authorities have activated Secure Communities, a data-sharing program designed to identify removable immigrants under arrest. This paper uses county-level data and multivariate analyses to examine factors related to deportation rates. Although regional context helps explains variation in deportation rates, local factors also make a difference. Places with especially beleaguered economies, large jail capacity, and high drug crime rates report higher deportation rates. Moreover, partisanship and restrictive immigration experiments predict deportation rates, unlike initiatives designed to protect unauthorized immigrants from removal. In sum, Secure Communities operates in divergent local contexts, and efforts to accelerate removals make a difference.

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Presented in Session 64: International Migration and U.S. Immigration Policy