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.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What is Crimmigration?
Impact on Local Communities
Cost of Crimmigration
Cost of Non-citizen Detention
Immigration Enforcement Programs
Punishment of Sanctuary Cities
Social Costs to Society
Lost Tax Revenue
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
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-
Click to learn more about communities that have already felt the negative
consequences of crimmigration involvement.
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
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%)
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-
Non-citizens Incarcerated at State and
Federal Levels = 88,248
Federal Criminal Offenses of
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.
Criminal Alien 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
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
Sanctuary City: a place designed to limit cooperation with involvement in
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.
The amount of funding that Chicago will no
longer receive, which goes directly towards
purchasing body-worn cameras for the
Chicago Police Department.
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).
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.
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.
ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION
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.
Amanda Pierson, Mahalia Thomas, Chelsea Voronoff
This flipbook would not have been possible without the generous
support of the Open Society Foundation and independent
donors to JPI.