Immigrant Sanctuary as the “Old Normal”: A Brief History of Police Federalism

Tuesday, Feb 26, 2019 | 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm

Wildavsky Room, 2538 Channing | UC Berkeley
Location is ADA accessible

Trevor Gardner, ​Assistant Professor, University of Washington School of Law
Franklin E. Zimring, ​William G. Simon Professor of Law, UC Berkeley as respondent

Three successive presidential administrations have opposed the practice of immigrant sanctuary, at various intervals characterizing state and local government restrictions on police participation in federal immigration enforcement as reckless, aberrant, and unpatriotic. This paper finds these claims to be ahistorical in light of the long and singular history of a field I identify as “police federalism.” For nearly all of U.S. history, Americans within and outside of the political and juridical fields flatly rejected federal policies that would make state and local police subordinate to the federal executive. Drawing from Bourdieusian social theory, the paper conceptualizes the sentiment driving this longstanding opposition as the orthodoxy of police autonomy. It explains how the orthodoxy guided the field of police federalism for more than two centuries, surviving the War on Alcohol, the War on Crime, and even the opening stages of the War on Terror. In constructing a cultural and legal history of police federalism, the paper provides analytical leverage by which to assess the merits of immigrant sanctuary policy as well as the growing body of prescriptive legal scholarship tending to normalize the federal government’s contemporary use of state and local police as federal proxies. More abstractly, police federalism serves as an original theoretical framework clarifying the structure of police governance within the federalist system.



Trevor Gardner is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Washington School of Law. Professor Gardner writes in the areas of criminal law and justice with a focus on policing and police governance. After completing undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, Professor Gardner earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he served as Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard BlackLetter Law Journal. He then worked as a trial attorney at the District of Columbia Public Defender Service, litigating juvenile and adult criminal cases from presentment through disposition. Professor Gardner left criminal practice to join academia, earning his master’s and doctoral degrees in Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. His research has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the University of Michigan Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research, the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, the UC Chancellor, and the Prison University Project.

Franklin Zimring is the William G. Simon Professor of Law and Faculty Director of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Before he joined the Berkeley Law faculty in 1985 as director of the Earl Warren Legal Institute, he was a member of the University of Chicago law faculty as Llewellyn Professor of Law and director of the Center for Studies in Criminal Justice. In 2006 he was appointed the first Wolfen Distinguished Scholar and served in that capacity until

2013. Zimring’s major fields of interest are criminal justice and family law, with special emphasis on the use of empirical research to inform legal policy. He is best known for his studies of the determinants of the death rate from violent attacks; the impact of pretrial diversion from the criminal justice system; and the effects of criminal sanctions. Zimring is the author or co-author of many books on topics including deterrence, the changing legal world of adolescence, capital punishment, the scale of imprisonment, and drug control. Recent books include ​The Great American Crime Decline (​ 2007), ​The City That Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and Its Control ​(2012), and ​When Police Kill​ (2018).

SPONSOR: ​ISSI Graduate Fellows Program
CO-SPONSORED BY​: ​Center for Research on Social Change, Department of Sociology, Center for the Study of Law and Society



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