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Do amnesty programs encourage illegal immigration? Evidence from the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)

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  • Pia M. Orrenius
  • Madeline Zavodny

Abstract

This paper examines whether allowing certain undocumented immigrants to legalize their status leads to additional illegal immigration. The authors focus on the effects of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which granted amnesty to over three million undocumented immigrants. They find that apprehensions of persons attempting to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border declined immediately following passage of the law but returned to normal levels during the period when illegal immigrants could file for amnesty and in the years thereafter. The authors’ findings suggest that the amnesty program did not change long-term patterns of illegal immigration from Mexico.

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File URL: http://www.frbatlanta.org//filelegacydocs/wp0119.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series Working Paper with number 2001-19.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2001-19

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Keywords: Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986;

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

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  1. Cynthia Bansak & Steven Raphael, 2001. "Immigration reform and the earnings of Latino workers: Do employer sanctions cause discrimination?," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(2), pages 275-295, January.
  2. Gordon H. Hanson & Antonio Spilimbergo, 1996. "Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages: Evidence from Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border," Research Department Publications 4036, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  3. Frank Bean & B. Lowell & Lowell Taylor, 1988. "Undocumented Mexican immigrants and the earnings of other workers in the United States," Demography, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 35-52, February.
  4. Katharine Donato & Jorge Durand & Douglas Massey, 1992. "Stemming the tide? Assessing the deterrent effects of the immigration reform and control act," Demography, Springer, vol. 29(2), pages 139-157, May.
  5. C. Bansak & S. Raphael, . "Immigration Reform and the Earnings of Latino Workers: Do Employer Sanctions Cause Discrimination?," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1181-98, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  6. Gordon H. Hanson & Raymond Robertson & Antonio Spilimbergo, 1999. "Does Border Enforcement Protect U.S. Workers from Illegal Immigration?," NBER Working Papers 7054, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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