Friday, May 28, 2021
The contemporary deportation state – referring to the federal administrative infrastructure for enforcing the immigration laws through deportation and detention –has grown significantly over the past several presidential administrations. During the Trump era, the deportation state engaged in spectacles of cruelty against immigrants and received encouragement from blatantly anti-immigrant rhetoric from the president. However, its overall growth also reflected an extension of past practice from prior administrations. In this Essay, I argue that the Biden Administration should not only pursue an immigration agenda that seeks to reverse Trump-era immigration policies and enact legislative immigration reform—which it has expressed a commitment to doing—but should also seek to downsize the deportation state. To do so, it should place particular attention on how agency funding, management of the bureaucracy, and relationships with subfederal and private entities might impact successive presidents’ capacity to engage in mass deportation and detention.