Document Type


First Page



In this article we trace the expansion of interior immigration enforcement measures since the 1990s, focusing on the period after the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2003. We consider the rationale for the escalation of enforcement during this period, as well as the expansion of enforcement to include local and state law enforcement agencies. Detailing in particular the role of local jails, private corrections corporations, and the communities that are financially dependent on the prison industry, the article also examines who benefits economically and politically from these changes. Throughout, we consider how the expansion of immigration enforcement has affected U.S. citizen children and spouses of unauthorized immigrants. We question whether U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is fulfilling its mandate to de-emphasize enforcement against parents, guardians, and children given that the number of detentions and removals in these categories continues to increase. We discuss how this is imposing unnecessary costs and burdens on ICE’s citizen stakeholders while benefiting private corrections corporations.