The Cost of Crimmigration


The Cost of Crimmigration: Exploring the Intersection Between Criminal Justice and Immigration

The Cost of

Exploring the Intersection Between


Criminal Justice and Immigration


According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, every

county in the United States has some involvement with the

Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) immigration

enforcement efforts. However, the cost to taxpayers when

local governments “partner” with DHS goes well beyond

what few dollars a community might get from the federal

government and often exceeds expected criminal justice

expenses. Crimmigration has led to significant increases in

local spending on incarceration, an additional burden on city

and county taxpayers. Communities lose valuable workers

who are needed in vital parts of the local economy, which

lose tax revenue when immigrants are ensnared in the system

for minor immigration violations. Cities and counties also

face potential lawsuits due to complications resulting from

enforcing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

policies. All these costs are paid for by local taxpayers, with

little to no reimbursement by the federal government.


What is Crimmigration?

Impact on Local Communities

Cost of Crimmigration

Cost of Non-citizen Detention

Public Safety

Immigration Enforcement Programs

Legal Liability

Punishment of Sanctuary Cities

Social Costs to Society

Lost Tax Revenue

What is



A term used by the policy reform community to refer to the intersection

between criminal law and immigration law, where state and local criminal

justice systems have begun to enforce federal immigration offenses and

expand the categories of criminal infractions that can incarcerate and

apprehend both authorized and unauthorized non-citizens. Crimmigration

policies are the newest iteration of America’s mass incarceration problem:

even minor citations can make authorized immigrants detainable and

deportable, costing jurisdictions millions of dollars annually.

Delegation of Immigration Authority Program – or


A collaboration between the Department of Homeland Security and a city or

county that deputizes law enforcement officers to enforce federal immigration

laws, on behalf of ICE. The local officers have the authority to identify,

process, charge, and detain people believed to be violating immigration law.

State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP)

A program that potentially reimburses state and local governments for the cost

of holding non-citizens during their criminal proceedings. In recent years,

SCAAP reimbursements covered less than a quarter of the total costs, while

funding has continued to drop and is eliminated in President Trump’s

proposed budget.

Impact on



Cities and counties can become involved in federal immigration

enforcement by establishing a partnership with the Department of Homeland

Security under section 287(g) of the Immigration Reform and Immigration

Responsibility Act (IRIRA). Involvement in 287(g) programs deputizes local

law enforcement officers (i.e. local police or Sheriffs) to perform certain

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) functions.

While cities and counties receive a modest amount of funding for training

and to assume federal immigration enforcement roles, these federal dollars do

not cover a significant portion of the costs associated with immigration

enforcement. The remaining, and often substantial, amount is then borne by

local taxpayers who, in return, see little to no public safety benefit. Under the

current Administration, these partnerships are expected to grow, as are their far-

reaching impacts.

Click to learn more about communities that have already felt the negative

consequences of crimmigration involvement.

of Crimmigration


Although general law enforcement expenditures

cover a wide spectrum, the United States spends

a staggering amount on immigration enforcement,

with the burden falling heavily on key states.

Nearly 1/3 of Immigration Law

Enforcement Costs go to the

top 5 states

Top 5 State Immigration Law

Enforcement Costs

1. California - $1,197,000,000

2. New York - $403,200,000

3. Texas - $366,100,000

4. Florida - $320,700,000

5. Illinois - $238,100,000

Total Cost = $3,894,100,000

California (47.40%) New York (15.97%)

Illinois (9.43%)

Texas (14.50%) Florida (12.70%)

Cost of Non-citizen


One of the major costs related to immigration

enforcement is non-citizen detention. States and

counties must find places to hold non-citizens,

often for extended periods of time.

Over 2/3 of Non-citizen Criminal

Detention Costs are borne by

only 5 states

Top 5 State Non-citizen

Criminal Detention Costs

1. California - $721,600,000

2. New York - $174,400,000

3. Arizona - $154,800,000

4. Texas - $149,600,000

5. Florida - $114,400,000

Total Cost = $1,857,400,000









While non-citizens commit crime at lower rates

than natural-born citizens, they face

disproportionate arrest and sentencing rates at

the local, state, and federal levels.

Recent rhetoric about the

relationship between criminal

Percentage of Noncitizens

in Total Incarcerated


activity and immigrants is false.

Research shows that non-citizens

commit far less crime than native-

born citizens.

Non-citizens Incarcerated at State and

Federal Levels = 88,248

Federal Criminal Offenses of

Undocumented Non-citizens

99% of the people locked up in the

federal system for immigration

violations were arrested for drug

or immigration offenses. Less than

1% are arrested for











As the burden of immigration enforcement falls on

local counties and cities, government programs

promise aid that covers only a fraction of the cost.



Fully Funded?

Immigration Detainer

Secure Communities

Criminal Alien Program

287(g) Program

State and Local Detention

Contracts with ICE

written request to a law enforcement


to hold non-citizens for an additional 48 hours, in order to provide ICE


meaningful opportunity to decide whether to take an individual into federal


for potential removal.



Counties face lawsuits as they hold non-citizens

in detention centers well beyond the 48-hour


ICE Detainer period.

ICE Detainer (or ICE Hold):


Cost that Jefferson County, CO was

subjected to during a lawsuit after

holding a man in jail for 47 days on an

ICE Hold.


Proposed settlement cost to San Juan

County, NM for illegal holds.


Cost to Spokane County, WA to settle

with a man who was wrongfully held

without bail for 20 days due to an

ICE Hold.

Sanctuary City: a place designed to limit cooperation with involvement in

Punishment of



While the debate is fluid, the current Administration

threatened to take away funding from cities that do

not cooperate with federal immigration enforcement.

federal immigration enforcement through formal and informal policies.


The average amount of lost federal funding for

a family of four residing in a sanctuary city.

$3.2 million

The amount of funding that Chicago will no

longer receive, which goes directly towards

purchasing body-worn cameras for the

Chicago Police Department.

$500 million

The amount Mayor de Blasio estimates

New York City taxpayers will have to pay

to make up for lost federal funding.

Cost to Society


Immigration enforcement results in many noncitizens

living in fear of detention and deportation

after any interaction with police.

Davidson County, TN

participated in the 287(g) program. After seeing

these consequences, they withdrew from the program:


Percentage of Latinxs in Davidson

County who said they knew of a crime

of police involvement.


that has not been reported due to fear

Percentage of Latinxs who admitted to not

calling the police, fearing racial profiling


related to immigration issues.

People in Davidson County who

reported feeling increased apprehension

about police cooperation.


The amount of Davidson County non-

citizen arrests that are misdemeanors, a

disproportionate impact of 287(g).

Tax Revenue


Along with the costs associated with enforcing

immigration policies, the economy will lose

valuable assets provided by non-citizens.


The amount of sales, property, and state tax

per year paid by undocumented immigrants.

8 million

The number of non-citizens contributing

to the workforce.


The amount that the country would lose in

economic activity if all unauthorized

immigrants were removed.


Justice Policy Institute (JPI) is a national nonprofit that is dedicated

to reducing the use of incarceration and the justice system by

promoting fair and effective policies. JPI staff includes Paul Ashton,

Jeremy Kittredge, Olivia Martinez, Marc Schindler, Jamille

White, Keith Wallington, and Jason Ziedenberg.


Jeremy Kittredge


Amanda Pierson, Mahalia Thomas, Chelsea Voronoff


Mahalia Thomas

This flipbook would not have been possible without the generous

support of the Open Society Foundation and independent

donors to JPI.

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