Local Policing in the Context of Immigration: Further Explorations Using a Mixed Methods Approach

Project: Research project

Project Details


Local Policing in the Context of Immigration: Further Explorations Using a Mixed Methods Approach Local Policing in the Context of Immigration: Further Explorations Using a Mixed Methods Approach Unauthorized immigration has become a major domestic issue in the United States as the number of these new residents has increased, with some estimates placing the unauthorized population at 12 million people (Passel and Cohn 2008). Many of these residents are settling in locations unaccustomed to immigration and bringing their families, hoping to integrate more fully into American society. State and local jurisdictions have responded with a patchwork of ordinances, policies and practices, many of which are designed to discourage settlement. Some local governments have asked the police or county sheriffs to work directly with federal authorities, or to check legal status in the course of routine law enforcement. Such requests challenge local police to assume new responsibilities, to avoid racial profiling, and to preserve positive relations with minority residents in line with long-standing commitments to community policing. The federal government has facilitated partnerships between local police and federal immigration authorities with legislation and administrative action providing for training and logistical support in the enforcement effort. This is a departure from a foundational idea in the American political system the notion that local law enforcement confines itself to local matters in a local context. The emerging picture is of blurred responsibilities for immigration control, with a recalibration of established relationships between local and federal authority. With NSF support, the PIs have surveyed law-enforcement executives in medium to largesized cities and prepared for case-study fieldwork to begin in January, 2009. The PIs seek funding to extend this project to counties, small cities, and towns with a significant number of foreign-born residents, another crucial arena in which the dynamics of local immigration enforcement are unfolding. Two additional surveys are planned. One is a sample of approximately 500 police departments in municipalities with less than 65,000 residents; the other is a sample of approximately 300 sheriffs in counties where the municipalities from the large- and small-city surveys are found. The survey results will assist the PIs in identifying four to five small jurisdictions for case studies. This multi-layered, multi-textured research will yield valuable information about the full spectrum of strategies employed by police and communities in relation to immigration.
Effective start/end date9/1/098/31/12


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $321,172.00


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