Abstract and Keywords
This essay examines variation in the response of local police to undocumented immigrants. The essay begins with a review of the history of law enforcement responses to immigration. Changing social and political conditions have changed the relationship between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies regarding immigration status. In many cases, this has shifted responsibility from the federal government to local police. Local police departments often lack clear policies and/or training regarding undocumented immigrants, leaving officers with little guidance when confronting issues surrounding them. Increased partnerships between local law enforcement and the federal government in the enforcement of immigration offenses have left police with the task of balancing relationships with immigrant communities with demands for law enforcement. Risks of increased local responsibility for immigration include concerns about racial profiling of undocumented immigrants and other residents, weakened ties between local police and immigrant communities, and communities compromised by deportation. We examine these challenges in the context of maintaining a commitment to community policing.
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