In 2017, the Trump administration will likely continue and expand the Obama administration’s focus on removing immigrants convicted of crimes. Whether Trump will break ground for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico is far less certain.

Ramping up immigration enforcement by focusing on the criminal justice pipeline for removals has proven to be an efficient strategy. Immigrants in jail are not hard to find. And, removing criminals raises far fewer civil rights concerns than, for example, locating and removing laborers through the use of workplace raids.

Immigrants with criminal arrest records and convictions have few political allies and defenders. Resistance to their removal has not been as great as resistance to removing other groups of immigrants, such as undocumented college students.

That may explain why Donald Trump began his presidential campaign by claiming that Mexico was sending criminals to the United States, and promising to deport them en masse.

To increase crime-based removals, the Trump administration will probably seek greater state and local assistance in federal immigration enforcement. Under President Obama, these efforts led to the removal of a disproportionate number of Latino immigrants. My scholarship sheds light on how Trump’s immigration proposals may similarly affect Latinos.

‘Latino removal system’
President Obama’s administration prioritized removing immigrants who had been convicted of crimes. However, the U.S. criminal justice system is notorious for producing racially disparate results. African-Americans and Latinos continue to be disproportionately criminalized and incarcerated as they have throughout U.S. history, as described in Michelle Alexander’s powerful book “The New Jim Crow.” …read more