The Effect of Immigration Enforcement on Crime Reporting: Evidence from the Priority Enforcement Program


Weak trust between immigrants and law enforcement may undermine law enforcement agencies’ ability to keep communities safe. This paper documents that an immigrant’s willingness to report crime is affected by immigration enforcement policies. I analyze the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), which was launched by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency in 2015. Under PEP, ICE focused enforcement efforts on immigrants convicted of serious crimes and shifted resources away from immigration-related offenses, thereby lowering the cost to immigrants of reporting crime to the police. I use incident-level data from the Dallas Police Department that include the name and ethnicity of all complainants to show that the number of incidents reported by Hispanic individuals increased by 10 percent after the launch of PEP. The results of this study suggest that reducing immigration enforcement of individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety can potentially be one way to enhance trust between immigrant communities and the police.

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