Enforcing Immigration Law: The Role of State and Local Law Enforcement [March 11, 2009] [open pdf - 331KB]
"Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the enforcement of our nation's immigration laws has received a significant amount of attention. Some observers contend that the federal government does not have adequate resources to enforce immigration law and that state and local law enforcement entities should be utilized. Others, however, question what role state and local law enforcement agencies should have in light of limited state and local resources and immigration expertise. Congress defined our nation's immigration laws in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which contains both criminal and civil enforcement measures. [...] Indeed, several jurisdictions have signed agreements (INA §287(g)) with the federal government to allow their respective state and local law enforcement agencies to perform new, limited duties relating to immigration law enforcement. Still, the enforcement of immigration laws by state and local officials has sparked debate among many who question what the proper role of state and local law enforcement officials should be in enforcing such laws. For example, many have expressed concern over proper training, finite resources at the local level, possible civil rights violations, and the overall impact on communities. Some communities have taken steps to define or limit the involvement of local authorities in the implementation of immigration law. This report examines some of the policy and legal issues that may accompany an increased role of state and local law officials in the enforcement of immigration law."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32270