The Role of Police and Community in Immigration Enforcement

Currently, almost 11 million immigrants live in the United States, and, therefore, local communities face numerous issues, related to the constant influx of undocumented illegals. The number of unregistered incomers will increase over time if the federal government fails to properly address this issue in the nearest future. Illegal immigration adversely impacts how society and communities function. National security, safety, public benefits, healthcare, and education are all affected by the issues of immigration. In many cases, despite arguments and controversies, illegals undermine the nation’s security.

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Therefore, illegals bring more harm than good to the country. If a person crosses the border illegally, he/she automatically breaks the law, and is, therefore, subject to punishment. Many criminal acts could have been prevented, owing to the efforts of law enforcement agents and the community. Moreover, most of the criminal aliens have been transferred to federal custody. Illegal aliens violate federal and state laws and, their behavior can serve as a bad example to potential incomers. Therefore, local and state law enforcement agents should act promptly and adequately when responding to law-breakers, represented by illegal aliens. Even though federal, state, and local officials regulate immigration in the United States, law enforcement agents and communities should also play a leading role in efficiently enforcing immigration law.

The influx of Immigrants, the Role of Law Enforcement Agents, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Immigration Enforcement Efforts

  • Influx of Immigrants

The constant flow of individuals into suburban areas forces the competent bodies to reallocate their human and financial resources to these communities, to promote better support and cooperation between police officers, officials, and locals. Experts expect that the number of illegal newcomers will significantly increase if officials do not undertake the relevant measures in the form of a new policies, laws, and legislative initiatives. Nowadays, approximately eleven unchecked and undocumented migrants reside in the United States. Therefore, the government is obliged to create a relevant law structure and introduce comprehensive and integrated policies that will, finally, resolve the issue of undocumented immigration in the country (Provine & Varsanyi, 2012). Child migrants mostly come to the USA from Central America, and, as a result, working-class cities struggle to absorb them. During his tenure, President Barack Obama signed an executive order, the main aim of which was to protect undocumented immigrants from deportation; this move was very important, as previous attempts to resolve this issue were not sufficient and not effective. However, nowadays, the USA still experiences another wave of arrivals from Latin and Central America. The ongoing Syrian crisis has exacerbated the immigrant problem, boosting fierce and ardent debates over Muslim refugees.

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The Role of Law Enforcement Agents

After September 11 attacks, the enforcement of national immigration laws has received significant public and official attention. Experts, observers, and analysts agree that the federal authorities do not possess sufficient human and financial resources to enforce immigration laws. The task of top priority is the utilization of local and state law enforcement entities. Through various amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act, members of Congress have broadened the authority and credentials of competent bodies to enforce immigration laws; some of the recently introduced statutes have reduced the role of states in the enforcement of civil matters.

Due to different levels of law enforcement, the government has failed to adequately cooperate toward the resolution of the immigration issue. The multiplication and duplication of duties between departments also pose significant limitations (Kirk, Papachristos, Fagan, & Tyler, 2012). However, local and state officials continue arguing and disputing about the roles that they should be assigned, when enforcing immigration laws. Many experts have expressed their concerns over the lack of proper training, scarcity of resources at the local, state, and federal levels, violations of civil rights, and effects of immigration on communities.

In some states, local authorities provide sanctuary for illegals and promote specific policies to ensure that incomers will not be sent to the federal authorities. Immigration officers serve as objective administrators, who are obliged to facilitate the deportation of migrants from the United States. However, as individuals, they are not responsible for the immediate expulsion of immigrants (Armenta, 2012). Police officers play a critical role in ensuring the adequate functioning of the whole system. Through expertise, knowledge, and skills, they also try to balance immigration enforcement and civil liberties. Law enforcement agents, undergoing federal training and complying with rules, regulations, and standards enforce the federal laws. This process is monitored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which got the right to enforce laws, rules, and regulations.

The Role of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security undertakes important immigration enforcement actions to prevent illegal entry into the USA, detain, and repatriate foreigners, who ignore and fail to comply with immigration laws. The role of congressmen is to create a comprehensive framework to assist the policemen in managing immigration issues (Khashu & Malina, 2009). Local police officers have direct access to such federal entities, as the Department of Homeland Security and can initiate a deportation process if a person or a group of people violate the immigration law. Efforts and actions of both parties can accelerate the removal of offenders from cities and communities. Moreover, they can spend less money by leveraging funds on deportation.

President Trump enforces the executive orders, thereby demonstrating serious intentions of his administration's crackdown on illegal immigration. These orders are designed to increase the security of national borders and ensure the strict enforcement of immigration laws. The Department of Homeland Security has issued several additional new rules; according to them, individuals, who currently live in the United States, commit offenses, and pose a significant threat to public safety and order, will leave the country, first of all. The White House and the Department of Homeland Security denied that the rules reflect the plan to massively deport aliens.

While the new policy requires the engagement of more skillful, qualified, and acknowledgeable immigration judges and other personnel assure, DHS officials assure that the agency does not intend to massively deport all immigrants. They also note that the introduction of a new policy will require time, and there is no need to sow panic in communities. Homeland Security officials also assure us that the new law will not affect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This program was introduced by the Obama administration; its main aim was to protect individuals, who came to the USA illegally. The policies and initiatives called for an expansion of the federal immigration program, through which local and state police officers enforce immigration laws. DHS officials also assure the public that before committing some immigration enforcement efforts, local officers will get extensive training to ensure intolerance of racist sentiments.

The Role of Community in Immigration Enforcement

  • Dependence on Communities

Recent events across the USA and the election of Donald Trump have urged the communities to take an active role in immigration enforcement. Nowadays, immigration is a challenging and complex subject that has dire consequences for immigrants, regardless of their origin, age, ethnicity, and nationality. Such a developed country as the USA has the best police force. Unfortunately, the law enforcement agents have failed to address several serious issues affecting the communities (Gaines & Kappeler, 2011). Police departments across the country highly depend on communities, and, therefore, seek to establish a good and mutually beneficial relationship with its members, including undocumented and documented immigrants. The main goal of police officers is to protect residents’ rights and educate them on various criminal issues. Only acknowledgeable communities can adequately address potential hazards that are associated with criminal acts. While the federal authorities provide individuals without citizenship with lawful status, local and state officials, in collaboration with the community members, are responsible for the implementation of legalization programs and the integration of legal newcomers into the communities. Past and current experiences provide an insight into the roles and responsibilities of all involved parties, regarding the implementation of a comprehensive and integrated program introduced by the U.S. government.

  • Community’s Engagement and Preoccupation

The engagement of locals in policing practices helps to ensure the smooth functioning of communities. The role of individuals in immigration enforcement is evident, only if they are educated and engaged in productive cooperation with police officers to address potential hazards. Hispanics, Latinos, and representatives of other racial minorities, who have been interrogated by the policemen regarding their immigration status, have less confidence in law enforcement agents (Barrick, 2014). Therefore, police officers and locals should share the most critical information, thereby establishing safe and peaceful communities. Not only police but community members significantly contribute to the identification and detention of dangerous offenders, which pose a significant threat to public safety. Their efforts are respected and valued, and locals have already become active partners of police officers in dealing with illegal immigration.

Most of the criminal acts have been resolved, owing to the community’s engagement, timely reaction, and prompt response. In addition, training and education are integral in terms of current immigration enforcement efforts undertaken by U.S. officials in cooperation with locals and policemen. Community members get the necessary training and complex education on how to behave themselves in complex and risky situations. They are also taught how to operatively respond to cases that can undermine national security and public order, as well as cause victims and destruction. Local authorities do not massively deport people, as this practice may conflict with the main mission and community policing. It may significantly deteriorate the relationship between police and locals, and hinder their willingness to provide vital information that will ensure community safety. The commitment to the community focuses on the expulsion of dangerous criminals, who pose threats and hazards. All community members are the police’s active partners, who are treated with respect and whose opinions and dedication are highly valued.

Cooperation, Communication, and the Introduction of Sanctuary Policies

  • Communication and Interaction between Various Parties

The close cooperation between communities, federal, state, and local immigration officials ensures public safety, and social order, and suppresses threats, danger, and hazards posed to U.S. security. These parties effectively deal with human trafficking, smuggling, drug-related offenses, transnational gang activity, and other offenses related to undocumented migration. If the cooperation between communities and police officers does not prevent the influx of illegals in the country, a significant number of criminals will reenter cities and commit severe offenses.

It is argued that immigration enforcement by local and state police officers can hurt migrants and limit their cooperation with law enforcement agents by local communities. Regarding maintaining public order and resolving criminal acts, police agencies highly depend on the assistance of legal and illegal immigrants. However, if these individuals are not assured that they will not be deported, they will not provide critical information to the police, even in case of crimes, including domestic violence that could have been committed against them or their undocumented family members. They do not want to jeopardize their lives and face expulsion. Therefore, to avoid issues, the competent authorities seek to change the way illegal immigration is managed nowadays. Particular attention is paid to such aspects as deportation, detention, and devolution of immigration (Coleman & Kocher, 2011). Many law enforcement agents continue addressing the most burning problems faced by the U.S. families, including domestic violence, abuses, and the reluctance of victims to report the police about the offense. Therefore, the task of top priority is to assure immigrants that they will not be deported, case of informed about the abuses against them. The issue aggravates if a victim is an immigrant. If locals call the police and report a crime, committed by an undocumented alien, an illegal can be deported and separated from his/her own family. Therefore, in most cases, the enforcement of immigration laws leads to the fact that females and their children struggling with domestic violence, abuses, and aggression will most likely avoid calling the police, and asking for help and intervention.

A key part of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign is the empowerment of local law enforcement agents to enforce federal immigration laws across the country. He believes that officers’ awareness of violators’ presence in the communities will accelerate their expulsion from the country. Unfortunately, many law enforcement agents, including those engaged in dealing with large immigrant populations have restricted their cooperation with federal authorities in recent years. Therefore, another task that the current administration sets and prioritizes is to establish a mutually beneficial relationship, productive cooperation, and communication between the competent bodies and communities at various levels. Their interaction is crucial to combating illegal immigration and the dire consequences, associated with this phenomenon. It is also important to note that local and state police officers serve as force multipliers and assist the federal agents in their enforcement immigration efforts.

  • Introduction of Sanctuary Policies

Despite the importance of collaboration between police and locals, the introduction of sanctuary policies can substantially hinder their relationship. According to this practice, law enforcement agents, and local and state officials cannot ask individuals that have been locally detained about their immigration status. The professional activity of local police agencies depends on the cooperation with legal and illegal immigrants in solving the criminal issues. In the light of recent events, there is a high demand for competent officers to enforce all laws that are related to illegal immigration (Wu, Sun, & Smith, 2011). In some immigrant-heavy areas, police officers are concerned with the fact that close relationships with immigration enforcement agents will hinder adequate community policing. However, they need to maintain a good relationship, sustain cooperation, and communication with immigrants, as well as fulfill their mission to maintain public safety.

Controversies and issues have always existed, but they have become more pronounced due to a significant number of undocumented migrants coming to the USA annually and staying in the country. Blocking the legalization of illegals and the introduction of serious legislative purposes have not inspired confidence in the public and recognition of the issue, as well as caused the resistance from localities and states. Immigration has increased crime rates, particularly in those communities, where a significant number of illegals live (Davies & Fagan, 2012). It is often argued that legalization will empower enforcement by assuring that the federal authorities pay more attention to recent arrivals. Effective enforcement against illegals will ensure the long-term deterrence of further offenses and restore the overall public support. The close cooperation between locals and immigration officials should be built on mutual benefits. The interaction will be more productive if law enforcement agents provide the relevant education to the community members so that they can better understand the specifics of police work and contribute to the stability and order in the city, where they live.

Even though the importance of collaboration is widely recognized, some states continue implementing sanctuary policies that prohibit or substantially restrict the interaction between all involved parties. In general, sanctuary policies prohibit local and state officials to share the necessary information with federal immigration officers and closely interact with them. Sanctuary policies differ in nature, and they are fulfilled through various means, including the internal policy of law enforcement agencies, executive orders, and local ordinances. Therefore, in some cases, it is quite difficult to identify and determine them. Sanctuary laws do not include immigration records in the crime-related database, and, therefore, they prevent the officials and public from waging a successful war against illegal immigration (Sullivan, 2009). Regardless of their enactment and form, sanctuary policies mostly satisfy the interests and welfare of criminal aliens, not U.S. citizens and residents. The implementation of this dubious policy not only undermines the obligations of authorities that they were supposed to bear after taking office but safety and security of community members. Therefore, one of the priority tasks that the current administration should set is the elimination of sanctuary policies that prohibit the adequate implementation of immigration enforcement efforts. Instead, efforts should be directed toward establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between locals, law enforcement agents, and federal authorities. The collaboration will accelerate policy-making and lead to the establishment of a legislative system that will secure the public, communities, and society.

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The U.S. Supreme Court regards state policies and laws as preempted when they conflict with federal laws or act as an obstacle to the realization of all objectives set by congressmen. Congress has set priorities through the Immigration and Nationality Act to determine, who may come and remain in the country. Some policies, ordinances, and sanctuary laws shield incomers from the administration of federal laws, thereby preventing the implementation of immigration laws, as congressmen and other competent bodies have initially intended. Sanctuary policies do not prevent illegal immigration and the arrival of criminal aliens but only aggravate this issue. Residents and citizens do not benefit at all. Public officials also fail to fulfill all their duties that are related to the protection of the population’s interests and ensuring social order and safety in modern society. Therefore, cooperation, interaction, and timely reporting of abuses, committed by illegals, should be prioritized at various levels. Legislative efforts of law enforcement agents and anti-sanctuary forces will ensure the maintenance of communication and interaction between various parties involved in immigration enforcement. Refusal of implementing dubious sanctuary policies will help the federal authorities to protect the nation’s interests and ensure that police officer carry out their main tasks.


Local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies have to closely cooperate to alleviate the burden that illegal immigration poses to the national security and community functioning. Immigration violations that harm legal residents and communities must be properly addressed by competent bodies at various levels. As the regulation of an immigration issue is a federal challenge, it requires particular attention from all affected parties. Due to the high cost of the influx of new aliens, the necessity of developing new laws, initiatives, and regulations is evident. Under President Obama, the U.S. government paid significant attention to immigrants, who illegally crossed the country, violated the law, and threatened public safety, and national security. Despite the narrow focus, Obama’s administration deported thousands of illegals. Trump’s reform is the introduction of executive orders on immigration enforcement that led to the new flow of deportations of unauthorized aliens. As such, the non-cooperation approach as sanctuary policy has proved its ineffectiveness, inadequacy, and irrelevancy in modern society, the policy on how to better protect the nation’s interests has to be reviewed to diminish the burden of illegal immigration on the U.S. public.

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