The Chimera and the COP: Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Law

Scholarly Articles and Books

November 1, 2004

Michael M. Hethmon, The Chimera and the COP: Local Enforcement of Federal Immigration Law, 8 UDC-DCSL L. Rev. 83 (2004)

Iobates sent Bellerophon away with orders to kill the Chimera that none might approach; a thing of immortal make, not human, lion-fronted and snake behind, a goat in the middle, and snorting out the breath of the terrible flame of bright fire. -Homer, Iliad 6.179-182.


The questions of if, when, and how local police can enforce federal immigration laws go to the heart of the legal hunt for the chimera that is contemporary American immigration law.1 In the opening years of this century, the estimated illegal alien population in the United States has reached historic levels. The national response to the attacks of September 11, 2001 transformed what had been largely a municipal conflict between ethnic organizations, the immigration bar, and local governments in high-immigration jurisdictions into a much larger national debate about national security, civil liberties, and federalism.2 After the devastating attacks on the United States, the public demanded a wide-ranging response.3

Congress believed that terrorists were read more.

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