Immigration, Immigrant Rights, Immigration Enforcement, Counternarrative, Interoperability


Police-ICE interoperability, known colloquially by immigrant rights actors as PoliMigra, is the cooperation of state and local law enforcement with federal immigration authorities to enforce federal immigration law. Hailed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and state and local authorities as a “common sense” approach to immigration enforcement, such collaboration is asserted to aid authorities in identifying and apprehending potential or proven threats to the nation. In contrast, immigrant rights actors argue that the blurring of lines between local police and federal immigration agents ultimately produces vulnerability for communities, both immigrant and native-born. In this article, I contextualize the foundations of recent police-ICE collaboration and discuss two individual programs, Secure Communities and 287(g), that exemplify interoperability. Drawing on observations from more than two years of participatory ethnographic field work in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, I then examine one strategy that immigrant rights actors have used to resist the collaboration of local law enforcement with federal immigration authorities. This strategy, a mock PoliMigra wedding ceremony, functions as an ideological counternarrative to the common sense rationale of police-ICE interoperability as logical and beneficial for communities