Behind Crimmigration

ICE, Law Enforcement, and Resistance in America

By Felicia Arriaga

190 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 12 halftones, 2 graphs, 9 tables, notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7323-3
    Published: April 2023
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-7322-6
    Published: April 2023
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-7324-0
    Published: April 2023
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5995-2
    Published: April 2023

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In recent years, dozens of counties in North Carolina have partnered with federal law enforcement in the criminalization of immigration—what many have dubbed "crimmigration." Southern border enforcement still monopolizes the national immigration debate, but immigration enforcement has become common within the United States as well. While Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations are a major part of American immigration enforcement, Felicia Arriaga maintains that ICE relies on an already well-established system—the use of local law enforcement and local governments to identify, incarcerate, and deport undocumented immigrants.

Arriaga contends that the long-term partnership between local sheriffs and immigration law enforcement in places like North Carolina has created a form of racialized social control of the Latinx community. Arriaga uses data from five county sheriff’s offices and their governing bodies to trace the creation and subsequent normalization of ICE and local law enforcement partnerships. Arriaga argues that the methods used by these partnerships to control immigration are employed throughout the United States, but they have been particularly visible in North Carolina, where the Latinx population increased by 111 percent between 2000 and 2010. Arriaga's evidence also reveals how Latinx communities are resisting and adapting to these systems.

About the Author

Felicia Arriaga is an assistant professor at the Marxe School of Public & International Affairs at Baruch College.
For more information about Felicia Arriaga, visit the Author Page.


“A rich critique of the actors and organizations in North Carolina that facilitate crimmigration. . . . The text expertly demonstrates how all crimmigration is local. . . . [and] Arriaga excels in taking readers to lesser-known settings and contexts to consider how 287(g) was conceptualized and contested through the everyday machinations of local government and electoral politics”—Sociology of Race and Ethnicity

“An important regional study on the criminalization of immigration. . . . This volume will interest students in the fields of crimmigration, criminology, sociology, legal studies, and immigration studies. Highly recommended”—CHOICE

"Arriaga offers a novel and important contribution to contemporary research examining the interconnectedness of local law enforcement officials (LEOs) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).”—Ethnic and Racial Studies

Behind Crimmigration explores the racialized effects and human costs of a local law enforcement agency’s decision to collaborate with ICE. . . . [A]n essential window into present politics.”—Inquest

Behind Crimmigration is a deep dive into the messy local politics of immigration policy in the United States today. Through on-the-ground research and insightful analysis, Felicia Arriaga shows us that immigration policies—and immigration politics—develop far from Washington. Taking us into county commission meetings in North Carolina and giving us a close view of sheriff’s departments’ operations throughout the state, Arriaga uncovers the local politics that turn local cops into immigration agents. ICE calls them force multipliers, but to migrants across North Carolina, they are the entry point into the immigration prison and deportation pipeline—and the object of community resistance.”—César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, Ohio State University, and author of Migrating to Prison and Crimmigration Law.

"I can't emphasize enough how important it is for scholars and students to have access to the story Felicia Arriaga tells us about local immigration law enforcement in North Carolina. Based on a wealth of data and field research, Arriaga's arguments about racialized social control add to the conversations surrounding immigration enforcement and tell a powerful story at the same time."—Tanya Golash-Boza, author of Deported: Immigrant Policing, Disposable Labor and Global Capitalism