Immigration Enforcement & Policing


Immigration enforcement and policing is a broad category that encompasses a number of distinct programs that are not merely the "enforcement of immigration laws", but are really a set of policies and practices aimed at the criminalization of undocumented immigrants, including deterrence from entry and the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants in the United States. The effect of these immigration policing policies and practices is a deepening of immigrant abuses and rights violations at US borders, especially the southern border with Mexico, and in the US interior.

The federal government has many tools at its disposal to "criminalize" immigrant communities where they live, work, worship, study and play. Increasingly, communities around the country are organizing, building alliances and coalitions, documenting and denouncing abuses, and raising their voices for justice & human rights -- with specific attention to issues of detention, deportation, immigration raids, border enforcement -- and most recently, the separation of families at the border.

BORDER POLICY - A KEY ELEMENT OF U.S. IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT NNIRR's Just Borders initiative focuses attention on the role of border policy and practices in "immigration control" -- a policy that has resulted in the criminalization of immigrants, countless migrant deaths at the border, and harmful impacts on border communities and the environment.

NNIRR on Immigration Enforcement

Through a national human rights abuse documentation initiative, HURRICANE (Human Rights Immigrant Community Action Network), NNIRR documented hundreds of cases of rights violations and abuses, pointing to a disturbing pattern of impunity, rampant due process violations, and a glaring lack of accountability and oversight. Published between 2008 and 2010, these reports provide both a critical analysis of the evolution of an "immigration policing regime" and a portrayal of community impact, developed from research, reports and stories of immigrant community experiences with immigration enforcement. These reports are available for free download:

  • (2010) Injustice for All: The Rise of the U.S. Policing Regime Produced by HURRICANE: The Human Rights Immigrant Community Action NetworkInjustice for All is a 58 page-report of rights abuses from 2009 through mid-2010. This report provides an executive summary, findings, full analyses of the issues, policy recommendations, 100 Stories Chronology of Abuses, and eleven testimonial essays from communities in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, North Carolina, Illinois and New York.

    Read the Executive Summary here.

Other Reports & Resources

A Price Too High: US Families Torn Apart By Deportations for Drug Offenses is a critical resource for understanding immigration and policing within the context of drug policy within the United States. The report was published in 2015 by Human Rights Watch and explores the consequences of deportation proceedings for minor drug ofenses. 

Read and download the report here.