The Coming Storm: Meeting the Challenge of a New Deportation Regime

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Photo by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr

The tools are already in place to fulfill President-elect Trump’s pledge to begin a mass deportation of what he terms “criminal aliens.” Local law enforcement agencies can take the lead, and local governments have plenty of incentive to put those tools to use.
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2 thoughts on “The Coming Storm: Meeting the Challenge of a New Deportation Regime

  1. Thank you for this informative and clearly reasoned work. Given the 1.5 million number under Obama and Trump’s inflated 2-3 million number, it would help me to know: how, then, are these administrations different? I see the distinction in the rhetoric, obviously. But these numbers seem so close to one another, and the police infrastructure so ingrained, that I wonder if there are grounds to expect more consistency between the two administrations than I had imagined. Could you elaborate?

    • Thanks for the question Andy – afraid an earlier attempted response was lost to the ether. Briefly, though, I see three key differences. The first is simply scale: the 1.5million number cited for Obama was during the administration’s first term. In its second, after it became clear that an aggressive approach to deportations was not going to convince Republicans to come to the table for comprehensive immigration reform, the Obama administration took a number of steps to reduce deportations (rescinding 287g agreements, replacing SComm with PEP) and protect particular classes of undocumented immigrants (DACA and the attempted DAPA) during its second term. So yes, deportations under the Trump administration may resemble Obama’s first term, but depending on the pace at which the incoming administration attempts to reach Trump’s cited 2-3 million number, it could potentially double the total number of deportations (3 million in the first 4 years of the Trump admin vs. 1.5 million under Obama’s first term).
      The other two differences could (1) help the Trump administration to achieve these ramped up numbers, and (2) expand detention infrastructure to handle the resulting increase. An expansive interpretation of 287g or a reintroduction of SComm (or simply a quieter change of policy under PEP) could involve local law enforcement in immigration enforcement at an unprecedented scale. The number of 287g agreements nationwide reached its zenith under Obama in 2012, with about 70 jurisdictions nationwide taking part. The administration’s second-term review of the program resulted in that number being reduced to its current level of 32, all of which are jail-based (i.e. no longer involving local law enforcement in ‘street level’ immigration enforcement). Depending on how loosely the Trump administration interprets the training and oversight requirements written into 287g, this number could potentially balloon into the hundreds very quickly. Coupled with an increased detention budget for private/for-profit providers (or IGSAs for beds in local jails), local law enforcement agencies (county sheriffs in particular) will have increased political and financial incentives for engaging in harsh immigration enforcement in their jurisdictions.

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