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Jurisdictions to watch on local enforcement, part one: Orange County, California

This entry is the second in a series on the involvement of local law enforcement agencies in immigration enforcement under the Trump Administration’s January 25th executive orders. Please see the January 26th introductory entry for context.

Last Thursday I introduced my ongoing database project looking at local police cooperation with the Trump administration on immigration enforcement. I began this project before Trump signed a pair of immigration-related executive orders on January 25th; if anything, those orders made the work of tracking and assessing the impact of local police involvement in immigration enforcement more important than ever. In the long term, these orders also have the potential to make this work exponentially more difficult, as the orders appear to signal the administration’s intention to make immigration enforcement broadly the work of law enforcement agencies nationwide, without the memorandums of agreement, training, and oversight called for under section 287g of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act.

For the time being, however, jurisdictions with active 287g agreements, or previous agreements that were rescinded by the Obama administration under its reform of the program in 2012, are in the best position to ramp up their enforcement efforts quickly and to significant effect. In the relatively small universe of these jurisdictions (roughly 75 current and former 287g holders) a handful stand out as places where local and national advocates should remain vigilant. These jurisdictions are not limited to a particular region – they are in the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic, the deep South and the Northeast. They are even, as the current profile details, in liberal California. What they share instead of a region is a handful of key characteristics:

1) They have operated consistently under the same chief executive since before the Obama administration’s efforts to reform 287g. In most cases, this means that the same individual who signed the jurisdiction’s first 287g memorandum of agreement is still making the relevant executive decisions about involvement in immigration enforcement moving forward.

2) They are (with few exceptions) county law enforcement agencies headed by elected sheriffs.

3) They have started deportation proceedings for significant numbers of immigrant arrestees under their 287g programs in the past.

4) They have clear incentives for directly involving their officers in immigration enforcement. While these incentives are often political, they are often financial as well, with direct income and/or indirect ‘economic activity’ arising from close ties to private/for-profit immigrant detention facilities located within the jurisdiction, and/or Intergovernmental Service Agreements (IGSAs) under which ICE pays the jurisdiction a per-day fee to detain immigrants in the local jail.

The first of our “jurisdictions to watch” – Orange County, California – fulfills all four of these criteria. Below, in a template that I will attempt to maintain throughout the other jurisdictional profiles to follow, I will lay out the data that makes Orange County an important jurisdiction for immigrant advocates to invest time and resources in, provide a narrative outline of how Sheriff Sandra Hutchens’ and her agency’s approach to immigration enforcement has developed since its initial 287g involvement, and provide context around avenues for potentially fruitful advocacy efforts in support of Orange County’s immigrant communities. As ever I welcome input, particularly from readers who know the jurisdiction intimately. Much of the data discussed comes from prior to the Obama administration’s reorganization of the 287g program in 2012, so some aspects of the jurisdiction’s involvement in immigration enforcement could have changed significantly in the ensuing years; I note in the narrative section where open source evidence indicates that this is the case.


SHERIFF-CORONER: Sandra Hutchens.

Hutchens, a Republican, was first appointed Sheriff by the Orange County Board of Supervisors in June 2008, following the resignation of her elected predecessor, Mike Carona, after his indictment on corruption charges. Hutchens has since won reelection twice, in non-partisan elections in 2010 and 2014. Since her second reelection, Hutchens herself has come under fire for a legal scandal involving the department’s use of confidential informants.

ARRESTEES PROCESSED FOR DEPORTATION UNDER 287G: 1,866 in 2012 – second only to San Bernardino County in California.

ACTIVE IMMIGRANT DETENTION FACILITIES: Theo Lacy Facility & James Musick Facility operated under IGSA with OC Sheriff’s Dept, making “a maximum of 838 beds available to ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations.” Santa Ana City Jail also under ICE contract until June 30, 2020 (when city council claims it will be allowed to expire).

AVERAGE DAILY POPULATION (ADP) OF IMMIGRANT DETAINEES: These 3 facilities, plus a handful of others, held an average of 961 immigrants on any given day throughout 2012. Per diem/per detainee compensation was $82 in 2006 (for City of Santa Ana – OC Sheriff’s rate unknown). Assuming 3% annual increase and consistent ADP, a conservative estimate of 2016 gross receipts for detention in Orange County would be ($104 * 961 detainees * 365 days) = $36.5 million. Assuming consistent processing numbers, about $12 million ($104 * 1,866 processed for deportation * 60 day average stay), or one third, of these gross receipts arose directly from the Orange County Sheriff’s enforcement activity under 287g.

HISTORY OF 287G IN ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Orange County signed its original 287g agreement in 2006, under Hutchens’ predecessor Mike Carona. Hutchens has since renewed the agreement as recently as June 2016, making it the sole remaining active 287g agreement in all of California. Local media questioned the value of the program as early as 2007, with Sheriff Carona himself expressing mixed views on the usefulness of local police involvement in immigration enforcement. Local activists have carried out protest actions against the program as recently as 2016. In 2014, the County changed its policy on responding to ICE detainers due to liability concerns stemming from Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas County, with Sheriff Hutchens informing ICE in a letter that the Department would “no longer hold inmates with ICE detainers beyond their scheduled release date, absent a judicial determination of probable cause”, though this letter also indicates that “ICE may take custody of the inmate so long as it occurs during OCSD’s release process and does not require additional detention of the inmate by OCSD.”

Taken together with the exact language contained in Orange County’s 287g agreement, detailing the authority that ICE has granted OCSD personnel to exercise over immigration enforcement, this equivocation raises questions about whether and to what degree the OCSD has backed off from its involvement in immigration enforcement in response to Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas. The OCSD’s 287g agreement authorizes designated Sheriff’s Deputies to perform all of the functions of immigration enforcement up to and including the issuing of immigration detainers, raising the possibility that OCSD could arrest an individual, screen them for deportability, issue a detainer, and transfer them to ICE custody in one of the OCSD’s own contracted detention centers without ever actually turning over physical custody of the individual to ICE; whether the ICE agent would need to contribute anything to the process other than a signature is unclear, despite reporting around the issue indicating otherwise.

CONTEXT AROUND CONTINUED IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT UNDER 287G IN ORANGE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: There are clear reasons for California counties to shy away from 287g agreements and other kinds of cooperation with ICE on immigration enforcement, starting with the liability concerns under Miranda-Olivares v. Clackamas discussed above. Indeed, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Los Angeles counties recently rescinded long-running 287g agreements in response to Clackamas, along with the arguably even more stringent requirements of the 2014 California TRUST Act. The act prohibits “a law enforcement official […]from detaining an individual on the basis of a United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement hold after that individual becomes eligible for release from custody” with exceptions for individuals who have been convicted of a narrow range of (mostly violent) crimes.

Sheriff Hutchens has stated clearly and publicly that Orange County “do[es] not violate the California Trust Act,” so it is likely that the act has indeed already reduced significantly the number of individuals processed for deportation under the County’s 287g agreement in the three years since its passage; as further data becomes available, it might become clearer that despite maintaining its 287g memorandum of agreement, Orange County’s immigration policies (or at least their impact on immigrant communities) have been brought in line with the rest of the State’s jurisdictions. California’s legislative environment is arguably among the most pro-immigrant in the country, and continued legislative activism could very well limit the potential for like-minded local jurisdictions to follow the Trump administration’s lead on immigration enforcement. There are limits to the lengths the state government is willing to go in order to protect its immigrant communities, however, as Governor Jerry Brown’s recent veto of the Dignity not Detention Act appears to indicate. California’s advocates and activists would do well to keep a watchful eye on the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in the coming weeks and months.

Daniel L. Stageman, PhD is Director of Research Operations at CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He is also a criminologist whose scholarship focuses on making sense of America’s punitive approach to immigrants. He can be contacted at dstageman(at)jjay.cuny.edu. This has been the first in his series of profiles of “jurisdictions to watch” on local immigration enforcement under the new policies promulgated by President Trump’s January 25th executive orders. Next up: Etowah County, Alabama.

Local police and immigration enforcement under the Trump administration

By: Dan Stageman, PhD – Director of Research Operations in the Office for the Advancement of Research at CUNY – John Jay College.

I began drafting a speculative blog entry about the Trump Administration’s likely actions on immigration enforcement before I caught the news of yesterday’s executive orders on the subject. That entry began with some thoughts on the uncertainty and unpredictability of the new administration’s actions in the immigration arena or any other. Just 24 hours later, those introductory paragraphs read like clueless optimism – the sort of hopeful, best-case-scenario thinking that many of us have continued to indulge in defiance of all evidence to the contrary.

As of January 25th, I’m ready to declare myself officially done trying to find silver linings. What is left for advocates and others concerned with the well-being of America’s immigrant communities is to gird for a long and bitter fight. As I begin to shape my own part in this fight, the anxiety around where to get the most return on investment for my limited time, energy, and expertise is profound. I don’t think there are any easy answers to this dilemma, but the time-honored exhortation to “think globally, act locally” has particular relevance in the context of an immigration enforcement regime that looks set to outdo all prior efforts to involve local law enforcement agencies as a “force multiplier.” Trump’s “deportation force” – an accurate-enough label for the planned trebling of the ranks of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, a glaring exception to an overall federal hiring freeze – will take considerable time to implement. In the meantime, he has clearly signaled his intention to rely on local law enforcement agencies to quickly ramp up deportation efforts, to a level that will likely make the record-setting pace of expulsions reached under President Obama’s first term seem humane by comparison.

In my last essay on this topic, I speculated that the Trump Administration might choose to take the broadest possible interpretation of section 287g of the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, allowing it to ‘deputize’ any interested local law enforcement agency by signing a memorandum of agreement including the bare minimum of training and oversight. Trump’s January 25th executive order in fact goes much further, making a blanket declaration empowering local and state police to “perform the functions of immigration officers in relation to the investigation, apprehension, or detention” of undocumented or deportable immigrants, “under section 287(g) of the INA, or otherwise.”

It remains to be seen how the Trump administration and potential local partners will interpret these provisions, just as it remains to be seen where and how they will be challenged by states and localities, in practice or in court. My own prior work on local immigration enforcement partnerships leads me to believe that local enforcement will be restarted (or ramped up, where it has been ongoing under 287g “jail enforcement” agreements signed with the Obama Administration) first – and with the most significant impact and potential harm to immigrant communities – in jurisdictions that fit a few key criteria. First, these “early adopter” jurisdictions will be headed by the same chief executives (most commonly elected county sheriffs) who signed 287g memorandums of agreement in the past. Second, they will be jurisdictions that started deportation proceedings for significant numbers of immigrant arrestees under these programs in the past. And third, they will be jurisdictions that have clear incentive(s) for directly involving their personnel in immigration enforcement at the local level. These incentives can be politically cynical or ideologically symbolic, but they are often straightforwardly financial: many of the same jurisdictions that have held 287g enforcement agreements in the past also host private/for-profit immigrant detention facilities to which they maintain close ties, or detain immigrants themselves under potentially lucrative Intergovernmental Service Agreements (IGSAs) under which ICE pays the jurisdiction a set per-day fee for each immigrant detained.

Using these and other characteristics, I believe we can anticipate with some accuracy the first round of jurisdictions that will move forward with local immigration enforcement efforts under cooperative agreements with the Trump Administration. We can also make informed judgements about the potential harm these agreements will pose to immigrant communities residing within the jurisdictions in question – and the potential for legislative, legal, political, or practical challenges brought by advocates to mitigate this harm.

In an effort to help advocates better focus their limited resources on effective and broadly impactful challenges to the Trump Administration’s local immigration enforcement efforts, I have begun pulling together the relevant data that I believe will help us make these judgements. This is the first entry in a series I have planned to highlight “five jurisdictions to watch” under the Trump administration’s local enforcement partnership efforts.

There are of course many more than five jurisdictions where ramped up local enforcement efforts are likely to harm immigrant communities, and even the most comprehensive statistical analysis would be limited in the predictive power it could provide. The purpose of organizing this series as a “listicle” is an acquiescence both to blogging culture and to the limits of my own time. It is not my intention, however, to promote an academic project, or protect and withhold privileged academic data. On the contrary, I plan to post the database as a public data tool, and I hope that sharing it in this and other forums helps to generate discussion on ways to make it more useful as a tool for advocates. Please contact me (or contribute a public comment) if you have any thoughts on how to do that.

Each jurisdiction profile will include the full list of facts and figures that justify its inclusion, along with a discussion of its previous involvement in immigration enforcement, its local political and state legislative context, its immigrant communities, and thoughts on what advocates could do (in many cases what they are already doing) to challenge or mitigate the potential harm of local enforcement. The five jurisdictions that I will profile are:

  • Orange County, California (Sheriff Sandra Hutchens)
  • Etowah County, Alabama (Sheriff Todd Entrekin)
  • Frederick County, Maryland (Sheriff Charles Jenkins)
  • Alamance County, North Carolina (Sheriff Terry S. Johnson)
  • Gwinett County, Georgia (Sheriff Butch Conway)

Time permitting, I will also include “(dis)honorable mention” profiles of Monmouth County, New Jersey (Sheriff Shaun Golden) and Butler County, Ohio (Sheriff Richard K. Jones). Note that these jurisdictions do not simply represent the top jurisdictions in terms of likelihood or likely harm of local immigration enforcement; as noted above, they are included based on my own best judgement of the available data. I’ve also made an effort to include jurisdictions from across a broad regional spectrum, to highlight the reality that this phenomenon is not exclusive to any given region – and the equally important fact that federal-state tensions on immigration are reflected in parallel state-local tensions. Thus our first profile will focus on Orange County, the lone 287g holdout in what is arguably the most pro-immigrant state in the nation.

Those who are interested should watch this space. I will post these profiles as I complete them, singly or in multiples as time permits. In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to comment or contact me with any thoughts, questions, or requests.

Daniel L. Stageman, PhD is Director of Research Operations at CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He is also a criminologist whose scholarship focuses on making sense of America’s punitive approach to immigrants. He can be contacted at dstageman(at)jjay.cuny.edu

Interview with Amy Adamczyk, Professor of Sociology

Ahead of the upcoming publication of her book, Cross-National Public Opinion about Homosexuality: Examining Attitudes across the Globe, Research Operations Assistant Laura Lutgen took the opportunity to interview Professor Amy Adamczyk

Laura Lutgen (LL): I was told by another doctoral student that you worked in fashion prior to academia. Is that true? What brought you into sociology? What brought you to John Jay?

Amy Adamczyk (AA): Yes, it is true. My first degree is an ASS in Fashion Design. As a kid, I dreamed of moving to the city and becoming a designer.  My mom taught me how to sew and I eventually found myself studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.  After obtaining my associate’s degree I worked for a few years in the fashion industry, but it was nothing like what I expected (i.e., Devil Wears Prada).  I therefore decided to go back to school and since I was living in NYC I selected one of the local colleges –Hunter College.  While I was there I fell in love with sociology and my professors encouraged me to consider graduate school.  From there I got a MA from the University of Chicago.  I then enrolled in the Graduate Center’s (GC) Ph.D. Program in Sociology.  However, I was interested in the sociology of religion and there were few professors doing that work at the time. After obtaining an en-route MA degree from the GC I transferred to Pennsylvania State University where I worked closely with Roger Finke, who is a sociologist of religion. After graduating with my doctorate my first job was at Wayne State University in Detroit.  When I was at the Graduate Center I had grown fond of NYC.  While I was at Wayne State I decided to see if I could get a position in NYC.  That year John Jay College was hiring a lot of assistant professors and in 2007 I came here.

LL: It seems like you’ve done a vast amount of research on religion, sexuality, and terrorism/extremism (not always intertwined, of course). Where did it all begin? How has your earlier work influenced your current work and your next chapter (no pun intended)?

AA: My first subarea of interest was the sociology of religion. I grew up in rural Wisconsin on a dairy farm (my parents were part of the back-to-the-land movement).  My parents were very religious, but politically liberal.  There was a lot of life and death on the farm and as a kid I thought a lot about the cycle of life.  This was supplemented with ideas from our conservative Protestant faith. I was always interested in how religion shapes people’s attitudes and behaviors, so it is fitting that this became one of my major areas of study.

As I have studied religion I have become increasingly interested in how it shapes people’s deviant attitudes and behaviors. Religion often limits minor deviant acts and illegal behaviors and similarly shapes people’s views on issues like homosexuality, abortion, minor substance use, and premarital sex. I typically study attitudes and behaviors that are on the edge of being illegal.  Terrorism too can be similar to these other issues. In some places behaviors that might otherwise be described as “terrorism”, may be seen as political protest or freedom fighting.  It can depend on the context. I am curious about how the larger social, economic, national, and historical context shapes the way these behaviors (e.g., political protest, same-sex sexual relations, abortion, etc.,) get viewed and the characteristics influencing the likelihood that people will engage in them.

LL: Tell us about your book, Cross-National Public Opinion about Homosexuality. What sparked your motivation for such a project, both in terms of the subject matter and methodology but also in terms of taking on such a large endeavor? Have you always seen yourself as wanting to write a book? What are you most exited about and what are some of the key take-aways?

AA: Public opinion about homosexuality varies substantially around the world. While residents in some nations have embraced gay rights as human rights, people in many other countries find homosexuality unacceptable. In the book I use survey data from almost ninety societies, case studies of various countries, content analysis of newspaper articles, and in-depth interviews to examine how individual and country characteristics influence acceptance of homosexuality.  The survey data show that cross-national differences in opinion can be explained by three primary factors -the strength of democratic institutions, the level of economic development, and the religious context of the places where people live.  The world’s poorest, least democratic and most religious countries are more likely to have laws that punish same-sex sexual behaviors and have a high proportion of residents who disapprove of homosexuality.  While the United States has high levels of economic development and a strong democracy, it has been slower to change its laws and attitudes about homosexuality than some of its European counterparts, in part, because the US is a more religious country.

While some books have been published on the factors shaping attitudes about homosexuality in the US, I do not know of any book-length study that examines the factors shaping attitudes across nations.  I published a journal article on this issue several years ago in Social Science Research (Adamczyk and Pitt 2009) and it remains one of the most cited articles in the journal and is the most cited article I have written.  That helped give me the confidence to move forward.  I also got some grants and fellowships that made doing the research feasible, especially the fieldwork in Taiwan and content analysis of 800 newspaper articles, where the help of doctoral student coders was needed.

Disciplines vary in the extent to which researchers write books versus academic articles.  The humanities publish the most books and the natural sciences mostly focus on journal articles. The social sciences are in the middle. Until now almost all of my research has been published in peer-reviewed journal articles (35) and reports (10). I wanted to write a book because I thought I could offer hundreds of pages of insight on this topic and I wanted to reach people outside of academia.  I also got a lot of encouragement from my colleagues, editor, and friends.

LL: You’ve traveled quite extensively – Europe, Asia, Africa. Tell us about these experiences. What was your most rewarding experience, both professionally and personally?

AA: I have been fortunate to have a lot of opportunities for international travel.  Over the last five years I have spent time in Europe (e.g., Italy, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands), Africa (Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, etc.), and Asia (e.g., Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, etc.).  A lot of this travel is related to my research.  For example, one of the chapters in my book focuses on Taiwan.  I spent a couple of months there doing research for the book which entailed talking with journalists, religious leaders, academics, activists, and political leaders about how they thought the Taiwanese viewed homosexuality. I really learned a lot and made several friends. The research assistant (Angel Liao) that I hired to help me is now working on her doctorate in sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center.

In addition to some trips where I really got to know residents, I have had some fun adventures. About five years ago I participated in a workshop in Uganda where I also had a chance to go white water rafting on the Nile which at the time had some 5-grade rapids.  I still have dreams/nightmares about that experience.

LL: As a doctoral student, what advice as a senior professor would you give someone at my level? Any tips/tricks you’ve come across? What are some things we can do now that will benefit us throughout our academic career and, especially, in preparing and taking on the academic job market?

AA: My areas of research are really intriguing to me and I am genuinely curious about the research questions I investigate. I would urge students to find something about which they are passionate since there are aspects of this job that are really boring.  Being genuinely curious will help you get through the less exciting parts.

I think it is important to also remember that everyone gets rejected and that a big part of this job is getting grants and papers rejected.  Nevertheless, you have to keep submitting, as every now and then something hits, and over time you get better at both handling the rejection and developing successful projects. Having good collaborators also helps.

Finally, the job market for professors is tight.  If doctoral students want to study something that is a little esoteric (e.g., sociology of religion) it would be a good idea to pair that interest with a more popular area of study like criminology. In the end you want to be able to enjoy what you do and get paid for it, so it is a good to be at least somewhat practical.

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