Does Immigration Enforcement Affect Crime, Job Opportunities and Health Care?

Awarded Scholars:
Giovanni Peri, University of California, Davis
Project Date:
Jul 2018
Award Amount:

Co-funded with the Carnegie Corporation

About two-thirds of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. have been here for a decade or more. Most are employed, have U.S.-born children and participate in the economic and social life of their communities.  In industries such as agriculture, construction, housekeeping, and food services, undocumented workers represent a significant share of the labor force. The number of undocumented immigrants grew substantially during the 1990s and through 2006, but has since stabilized. Nativist political discourse has associated the undocumented with declining job prospects for natives, strain in public services, and crime. Some politicians propose removing the undocumented through apprehension and deportation.

Economist Giovanni Peri will evaluate the evidence regarding the impact of apprehensions and deportation of the undocumented by taking advantage of first a surge and then a decline in the intensity of apprehensions and non-border deportations. These variations in enforcement policy had differential effects across counties, due to variation in the number of undocumented immigrants and differences in local responses to enforcement policies. Peri will estimate the causal impact of increased apprehensions and deportations on local crime rates, and the wage and employment rates of natives.  Next, for industries that rely heavily on undocumented workers, he will analyze the impact of increased enforcement on total employment, payroll, number of firms, and economic specialization.  Finally, he will analyze the extent to which deportation risk and increased enforcement may have affected immigrants’ access to health care, use of medical services and health outcomes.


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