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Does Border Enforcement Protect U.S. Workers from Illegal Immigration?

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  • Gordon H. Hanson
  • Raymond Robertson
  • Antonio Spilimbergo

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the impact of government enforcement of the U.S.-Mexican border on wages in the border regions of the United States and Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol polices U.S. boundaries, seeking to apprehend any individual attempting to enter the United States illegally. These efforts are concentrated on the Mexican border, as most illegal immigrants embark from a Mexican border city and choose a U.S. border state as their final destination. We examine labor markets in southern California, southwestern Texas, and Mexican cities on the U.S.-Mexico border. For each region, we have high-frequency time-series data on wages and on the number of person hours that the U.S. Border Patrol spends policing border areas. For a range of empirical specifications and definitions of regional labor markets, we find little impact of border enforcement on wages in U.S. border cities and a moderate negative impact of border enforcement on wages in Mexican border cities. These findings are consistent with two hypothesis: (1) border enforcement has a minimal impact on illegal immigration, or (2) immigration from Mexico has a minimal impact on wages in U.S. border cities.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7054.

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Date of creation: Mar 1999
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Publication status: published as Hanson, Gordon H., Raymond Robertson and Antnio Spilimbergo. "Does Border Enforcement Protect U.S. Workers From Illegal Immigrations?," Review of Economics and Statistics, 2002, v84(1,Feb), 73-92.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7054

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  1. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Friedman & Lawrence F. Katz, 1997. "How Much Do Immigration and Trade Affect Labor Market Outcomes?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 28(1), pages 1-90.
  2. Antonio Spilimbergo & Gordon H. Hanson, 1999. "Illegal Immigration, Border Enforcement, and Relative Wages: Evidence from Apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico Border," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1337-1357, December.
  3. Card, David, 2001. "Immigrant Inflows, Native Outflows, and the Local Labor Market Impacts of Higher Immigration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 22-64, January.
  4. George J. Borjas & Richard B. Freeman & Kevin Lang, 1991. "Undocumented Mexican-born Workers in the United States: How Many, How Permanent?," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration, Trade and the Labor Market, pages 77-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Godfrey, L G, 1994. "Testing for Serial Correlation by Variable Addition in Dynamic Models Estimated by Instrumental Variables," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 76(3), pages 550-59, August.
  6. Joseph Altonji & David Card, 1989. "The Effects of Immigration on the Labor Market Outcome of Less-Skilled Natives," Working Papers 636, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  7. Rachel M. Friedberg & J. Hunt, 1995. "The Impact of Immigrants on Host Country Wages, Employment and Growth," Working Papers 95-5, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  8. George J. Borjas & Lynette Hilton, 1995. "Immigration and the Welfare State: Immigrant Participation in Means- Tested Entitlement Programs," NBER Working Papers 5372, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Olivier Jean Blanchard & Lawrence F. Katz, 1992. "Regional Evolutions," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 23(1), pages 1-76.
  10. John M. Abowd & Richard B. Freeman, 1991. "Immigration, Trade and the Labor Market," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number abow91-1, May.
  11. Randall Filer, 1992. "The Effect of Immigrant Arrivals on Migratory Patterns of Native Workers," NBER Chapters, in: Immigration and the Workforce: Economic Consequences for the United States and Source Areas, pages 245-270 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. George J. Borjas, 1987. "Immigrants, minorities, and labor market competition," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 40(3), pages 382-392, April.
  13. Borjas, G.J. & Freeman, R.B. & Katz, L.F., 1991. "On The Labor Market Effects Of Immigration And Trade," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1556, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  14. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economics of Immigration," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 32(4), pages 1667-1717, December.
  15. George J. Borjas, 1986. "Immigrants, Minorities, and Labor Market Competition," NBER Working Papers 2028, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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