The Immigration Dragnet and the Dispossession of Household and Community Wealth in the United States

Geoffrey Alan Boyce and Sarah Launius
Date of Publication: 
October, 2019
Source Organization: 

The past three decades have witnessed a vast increase in immigration policing across the United States, involving an unprecedented number and variety of local, state and federal actors and agencies. When an individual is taken into immigration custody and then chooses to fight their immigration case, significant financial costs immediately begin to accumulate to themselves and to their household, as the latter struggles to provide material support in order to keep their family together. These financial costs range from assets seized at the moment of apprehension, to bonding a family memberout of immigration detention, to hiring an attorney; as well as many other costs that emerge between and beyond these particular moments.

This report provides preliminary findings from a two-year research study funded by the National Science Foundation and undertaken in Tucson, Arizona. The research examined the financial costs that accumulate to U.S. households following the exposure of an immediate family member to immigration policing in the United States. The City of Tucson provided an ideal location for studying these costs; due to its location well north of the U.S. / Mexico border, but within the U.S. Border Patrol’s 100-mile enforcement jurisdiction, the city plays host to the full range of police agencies involved in the enforcement of immigration laws across the United States. After discussing the various pathways by which individuals find themselves placed into immigration detention and removal (deportation) proceedings, the report discusses the multiple kinds, costs and scope of the financial demands that immediately begin to burden their household. Next, the report examines thestrategies mobilized by these households to manage and absorb these financial costs, and the downstream impacts these costs and strategies have on outcomes related to wealth, health, housing, education and employment.

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Boyce, G. A., & Launius, S. (2019, October). The immigration dragnet and the dispossession of household and community wealth in the United States. Retrieved from