Working Paper No. 52

Do Immigration Enforcement Programs Reduce Crime? Evidence from the 287(g) Program in North Carolina

The 287(g) program enables local law enforcement agencies to enforce federal immigration laws. We examine 287(g)’s implementation across multiple counties in North Carolina and identify its impact on local crime rates and police clearance rates by exploiting time variation in regional immigration enforcement trends. We find no causal relationship between apprehensions through the 287(g) program and measures of crime rates or police clearances. However, we do find a significant relationship between the activation of 287(g) agreements and assaults against police officers. The 287(g) program did not affect the crime rate in North Carolina or police clearance rates but it did boost the number of assaults against police officers.

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Andrew Forrester is a research associate at the Cato Institute. Alex Nowrasteh is an immigration policy analyst at the Cato Institute.