Deportation, Secure Communities, Intergovernmental Cooperation and Resistance, ICE Detainers, Sanctuary Policies, Pro-migrant Politics


Deportation has reached record levels in the United States over the last decade. A major reason for this is that the federal government began using integrated databases and biometric surveillance technologies to identify deportable migrants whenever they come into contact with law enforcement officials. Implementing this enforcement technology in all jurisdictions across the country, the federal government undermined local inclusionary policies and brought state and local police into the work of federal immigration enforcement. This article examines efforts in one locality – Santa Clara County, California – to limit cooperation with this federal deportation machine. Drawing on documentary evidence and interviews with key actors, the article aims to identify the main factors accounting for Santa Clara County’s highly effective Civil Detainer Policy and draw out lessons for other localities intent on resisting forced participation in the federal government’s detention-to-deportation pipeline.