DOES PRESIDENTIAL POLICY CHANGE FEDERAL IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT? DOCUMENTING THE SEVERITY OF ALLEGED OFFENCES BY ICE IMMIGRATION ARRESTEES IN THE OBAMA AND TRUMP ADMINISTRATIONS
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The federated nature of U.S. immigration enforcement invites tensions between levels of government, which both cooperate and clash with each other. A hierarchical description would claim that states and localities are responsive to federal authority, yet this presumes that federal agencies themselves implement the policies of senior officials like the president. Whether either or both of those hypotheses is correct, however, is an empirical question.
Using federal arrest data from FY2015–FY2017, this research explores evidence for these hypotheses by asking whether executive changes to enforcement priorities led to more (or less) serious offenders being arrested by federal authorities in relation to those policies. Using an innovation from policing literature known as the crime harm index (CHI), analysis showed little difference in arrestee crime from before to during and after a Presidential policy, nor were any changes observed consistent when disaggregated by 24 regional jurisdictions of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.