|dc.description.abstract||The U.S. immigration enforcement system has institutionalized social control over the more than 22 million noncitizens residing in the country. Annual apprehensions, detentions, and deportations from the U.S. interior are all on the rise. Yet we lack a comprehensive descriptive account of how levels and rates of interior immigration enforcement have varied over time and across U.S. jurisdictions. In this dissertation, I establish these empirical facts and advance new explanations for the U.S. deportation boom and its geographic patterning.
The first empirical chapter combines analysis of administrative data on immigration court proceedings and immigration removals with census data and archival records to trace the expansion of the interior immigration enforcement system between 1970 and 2010 and assess drivers of this trend. Findings reveal a far more sustained history of interior enforcement than previously documented. Levels and rates of interior enforcement have been high since at least the 1970s. Additionally, through a series of decompositions, this chapter shows that growth in interior removals between 1988 and 2010 can be explained both by changes in the size and composition of the U.S. noncitizen population and by an increase in apprehensions. The expansion of the immigration detention system, the curtailment of immigration judges’ discretion, and the reduction of noncitizens’ due process rights were not major drivers of interior removals in this period.
The second empirical chapter provides the first systematic analysis of spatial variation in interior immigration enforcement practices. Analyzing the records of all immigration detentions in 2008 and 2009—a period when the volume of interior removals was at a peak—I estimate states’ immigration detention rates and examine geographic variation in detention outcomes, net of individual characteristics. Findings reveal substantial state heterogeneity in immigration detention rates, which range from approximately 350 detentions per 100,000 noncitizens in Connecticut to more than 6,700 detentions per 100,000 noncitizens in Wyoming. After detainment, individuals’ detention outcomes are geographically stratified, especially for detainees eligible for pretrial release. These disparities indicate the important role that geography plays in shaping individuals’ chances of experiencing immigration detention and deportation. Findings further show that states’ immigration detention rates do not map onto the geography of restrictive immigration laws and enforcement programs as scholars previously expected. Rather, states’ detention rates are associated with factors related to the composition of states’ immigrant populations, immigration officers’ use of discretion, and the presence of sanctuary ordinances.
The third empirical chapter combines quantitative analysis of immigration apprehension data with qualitative fieldwork to examine on-the-ground immigration enforcement processes in Massachusetts and New Hampshire—two states that vary in their enforcement rates and immigration policies. Findings show how various institutional, demographic, and legal factors interact to shape the opportunity structure for immigration apprehensions in each state. Findings from this chapter also reveal the deeply unsettled nature of the present-day interior immigration enforcement field and point to contestation between immigrant rights advocates, local and state police, and the federal government as an important driver of change in immigration control.||