Do Immigration Enforcement Programs Reduce Crime?
Evidence from the 287(g) Program in North Carolina
Do Immigration Enforcement Programs Reduce Crime
Evidence from the 287(g) Program in North Carolina

March 25, 2020

Project Summary

In an effort to improve public safety, Congress created the 287(g) program to increase coordination between local police departments and federal immigration officials. The 287(g) program authorizes local police officers to enforce federal immigration laws.

In this paper, immigration researchers Andrew C. Forrester and Alex Nowrasteh examine if these partnerships between federal officials and local law enforcement are increasing public safety by reducing crime. To determine the 287(g) program’s effect on crime, the authors examine its implementation in North Carolina and find no evidence that crime fell because of the federal-local partnerships.

North Carolina’s counties implemented the 287(g) program at different times. The authors use those different implementation times to determine the likely effects of the 287(g) partnership on the overall crime rates in the county. The authors find:

  • No evidence of a reduction in crime because of the 287(g) agreements,
  • No evidence that 287(g) agreements had a spillover effect and pushed crime into neighboring counties,

Ultimately, the authors conclude that there is no sizeable effect of immigration enforcement on public safety after the implementation of 287(g). This is an important finding for public policy as immigration enforcement efforts have increased over the past few years, including an emphasis on 287(g) partnerships. The research suggests that enforcement measures may not be effective ways to promote public safety.