Emily Farris Sheds Light on Sheriff Bias


Reposted from TCU Magazine

By Trisha Spence

In a turbulent political environment, Emily Farris attempts to make sense of one understudied piece of government: county sheriffs.

The Donald Trump administration is restrictive in policies relating to immigration into the United States and immigrants living in the country. Farris looks to her research to decipher how sheriffs play a key role in the enforcement of these policies.

Farris teamed up with Mirya Holman, an associate professor of political science at Tulane University, to conduct a national survey of more than 500 sheriffs in 2012. Farris and Holman asked the elected officials about the attitudes, policies and practices in their offices. Now the duo is working to make connections between the survey results and law enforcement.

“We quickly realized nobody studied sheriffs because they are, in fact, complicated elected officials and hard to study,” said Farris.

Farris wrote an article, “Sheriffs are enthusiastic about enforcing U.S. immigration law. That makes a big difference,” with Holman for the Washington Post.

In their article, Farris and Holman discuss the opposite of sanctuary cities—cities with leaders eager to enforce the new immigration mandates—and the role county sheriffs play in federal enforcement efforts.

“If more than one in four sheriffs report that their office checks the immigration status of crime victims and witnesses, people may be less likely to help police combat crime.”

–“Sheriffs are enthusiastic about enforcing U.S. immigration law. That makes a big difference.” By Mirya Holman and Emily Farris.

The piece was published in the Washington Post’s blog, “The Monkey Cage.” The purpose of the blog is “to connect political scientists and the political conversation by creating a compelling forum, developing publicity focused scholars, and building an informed audience,” reports its webpage. The section features articles from political scientists, usually from universities. Contributors include professors from top research universities such as Princeton, Yale and Stanford.

In addition to researching how sheriffs’ views impact immigration law enforcement, Farris and Holman also published, “Public Officials and a “Private” Matter: Attitudes and Policies in the County Sheriff Office Regarding Violence Against Women,” in Southwestern Social Science Association’s Social Science Quarterly.

Farris said she met Holman via mutual advisors at a Southern Political Science Association conference when Farris was a graduate student. The duo also collaborated to study social capital and why black women participate more in politics.