In This Review

The Border Within: The Economics of Immigration in an Age of Fear
The Border Within: The Economics of Immigration in an Age of Fear
By Tara Watson and Kalee Thompson
University of Chicago Press, 2021, 304 pp

Watson and Thompson provide a thoughtful, carefully written, historically informed description of U.S. interior immigration enforcement—that is, deportation proceedings and other measures and controls targeting immigrants when they are already within the United States—depicting its impact on individuals, their families, and the economy. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement gained fresh notoriety in the Trump years, but controversy over deportation is not new. President Barack Obama, sometimes referred to by immigrant advocates as “the deporter in chief,” oversaw an enormous expansion of the Secure Communities program, through which federal authorities partnered with local jails to carry out immigration enforcement. The authors interweave scholarly studies with the personal accounts of undocumented workers and their families. Interior immigration enforcement, they show, engenders uncertainty and a sense of vulnerability among the undocumented. Its chilling effect discourages workers from reporting work-site safety problems and seeking health care for themselves and their family members. Watson and Thompson call for a more politically temperate discussion of immigration and conclude with recommendations for a more humane and economically efficient interior enforcement regime.