Immigrants are caught in a complex and opaque web of databases, related systems, and information-sharing mechanisms that facilitate immigration enforcement and erect barriers to their full participation in economic and social life in the United States. These databases, systems, and mechanisms often depend on the entanglement of state and local law enforcement or licensing agencies with federal immigration and law enforcement agencies.

We hope that the following questions and answers will give immigrants and their advocates a better understanding of (1) how the exchange of data among agencies at different levels of government occurs currently, (2) how to evaluate the potential immigration-related risks and benefits of interacting with federal and state authorities, and (3) how to forge strategies and measures that will protect immigrants more effectively.

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