Every year, Congress spends a king’s ransom of $17 billion on border and immigration enforcement, more than the annual gross domestic product, or GDP, of 80 countries. This money is spent in a Sisyphean—and ultimately self-defeating—effort to identify and deport the 11.7 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. However, the vast majority of these immigrants have been living here for more than a decade, are well settled into American life, and are significant contributors to the American economy. In recent years, these aggressive enforcement policies have attempted to conscript state and local police—so-called force multipliers—into service as de facto immigration agents.
One troubling program at the heart of this effort to deputize state and local cops as immigration agents requires local police to check the immigration status of anyone booked on a criminal charge. Under that program, known as Secure Communities, whenever the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, identifies immigrants in local police custody who are potentially subject to deportation, DHS issues a “detainer,” or a request that the local cops hold the immigrant until DHS can take them into their custody.
For more on this topic, please see: