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Homeland Security

Guidance on State and Local Governments' Assistance in Immigration Enforcement and Related Matters


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provides this guidance on assistance furnished by state and local law enforcement officers to DHS in its enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws. This guidance primarily concerns assistance by such officers in the enforcement of the civil provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), specifically, cooperation in the identification, apprehension, detention, and removal of aliens who are unlawfully present.

DHS has long viewed state and local governments as valuable partners that can serve a helpful role in assisting DHS in fulfilling its responsibilities with respect to immigration enforcement. DHS continues to welcome that participation and does not intend for this guidance to disturb the longstanding pattern of cooperation on a day-to-day basis with state and local law enforcement agencies. For a state or local government to act systematically on a matter that affects immigration enforcement, however, that action has to be consistent with the comprehensive regulatory regime of the INA, which requires such state enforcement efforts be responsive to the policies and priorities set by DHS.

This guidance first sets out general legal principles that govern the respective roles of the Federal Government and the states in immigration matters. It then discusses the specific provisions of the INA that address the manner in which state and local officers may assist DHS in immigration enforcement. Finally, this guidance provides non-exhaustive lists of examples of state and local government actions related to immigration enforcement that are permissible and examples that would infringe on the Federal Government’s authorities and discretion.

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Read the Guidance on State and Local Governments' Assistance in Immigration Enforcement and Related Matters (PDF, 15 pages - 198 KB)

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Last Published Date: July 23, 2012
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