Immigrant-Serving Organizations and Local Law Enforcement: Do Nonprofits Predict Cooperation with ICE?


  • Daniel E. Chand Kent State University
  • M. Apolonia Calderon University of Maryland
  • Daniel P. Hawes Kent State University



Immigrant-Serving Organizations, Nonprofit Advocacy, Immigration Policy, Cooperative Federalism, Sanctuary Cities, Representative Bureaucracy



Relatively little research has examined the role of immigrant-serving organizations (ISOs) as policy advocates, and virtually no studies have sought to empirically determine whether ISOs shape local policy implementation decisions. Here we study the relationship between ISOs and the policy decisions of sheriff offices, which oversee county jails. Sheriff offices are vital to implementing federal immigration enforcement programs. We determine whether the presence of ISOs predicts sheriff office cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Using a sample of 630 sheriff offices that responded to a national U.S. Bureau of Justice survey, we find the concentration of ISOs registered to provide pro bono legal aid in immigration court does predict sheriff office cooperation. The presence of these legal-aid nonprofits predicts whether sheriff offices will adopt anti-detainer (or ‘sanctuary’) policies. Additionally, these legal-aid nonprofits also correspond to fewer immigration background checks submitted to ICE from county jails.

Author Biographies

Daniel E. Chand, Kent State University

Daniel E. Chand is Associate Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Kent State University. His research interests are in immigration enforcement and political activities of nonprofits. His recent research has been published in outlets such as the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory and Policy Studies Journal.

M. Apolonia Calderon, University of Maryland

M. Apolonia Calderon is Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, School of Public Policy. Her research interests are in public service delivery of nonprofit organizations and immigration enforcement. Her recent research has been published in Public Administration Review and VOLUNTAS.

Daniel P. Hawes, Kent State University

Daniel P. Hawes is Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at Kent State University His research interests deal with questions related to public policy and public administration, broadly, and substantively focus on education and immigration policy. He has recently published in Public Administration ReviewJournal of Public Administration Research and TheoryAmerican Review of Public Administration, Administration & Society.






Research Articles