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Politics, unemployment, and the enforcement of immigration law

  • Michael Makowsky

    ()

  • Thomas Stratmann

    ()

Immigration control-related audits and their resulting sanctions are not solely determined by impartial enforcement of laws and regulations. They are also determined by the incentives faced by vote-maximizing politicians, agents acting on their behalf, and workers likely to compete with immigrants in the local labor market. In this paper, we use a unique data set to test the extent to which congressional oversight determines the bureaucratic immigration enforcement process. We examine the decisions made at each stage of enforcement from over 40,000 audits from 1990 to 2000. This includes analysis of (1) whether a firm is found in violation, (2) whether a fine is issued, (3) the size of the fine issued, and (4) how much of a dollar reduction fined employers were able to negotiate. We find that the number of audits conducted increases with local unemployment. We also find that a congressman’s party affiliation and its interaction with committee membership and party majority status, as well as firm size and local union membership, correlate to decisions made at every stage of enforcement. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11127-014-0174-2
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 160 (2014)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 131-153

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:160:y:2014:i:1:p:131-153
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  1. Puhani, Patrick A, 2000. " The Heckman Correction for Sample Selection and Its Critique," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 14(1), pages 53-68, February.
  2. Anna Maria Mayda, 2004. "Who is Against Immigration? A Cross-Country Investigation of Individual Attitudes toward Immigrants," Development Working Papers 187, Centro Studi Luca d\'Agliano, University of Milano.
  3. Makowsky, Michael & Sanders, Shane, 2013. "Political costs and fiscal benefits: The political economy of residential property value assessment under Proposition 212," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 120(3), pages 359-363.
  4. Marilyn Young & Michael Reksulak & William F. Shughart, 2001. "The Political Economy of the IRS," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 13(2), pages 201-220, 07.
  5. Makowsky, Michael & Thomas, Stratmann, 2008. "More Tickets, Fewer Accidents: How Cash-Strapped Towns Make for Safer Roads," MPRA Paper 14360, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. Terry M. Moe, 2012. "Delegation, Control, and the Study of Public Bureaucracy
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  7. 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.
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  14. Juergen Jung & Michael Makowsky, 2014. "The determinants of federal and state enforcement of workplace safety regulations: OSHA inspections 1990–2010," Journal of Regulatory Economics, Springer, vol. 45(1), pages 1-33, February.
  15. Facchini, Giovanni & Steinhardt, Max, 2011. "What Drives U.S. Immigration Policy? Evidence from Congressional Roll Call Votes," IZA Discussion Papers 5561, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
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  17. Liesbet Okkerse, 2008. "How To Measure Labour Market Effects Of Immigration: A Review," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(1), pages 1-30, 02.
  18. Weingast, Barry R & Moran, Mark J, 1983. "Bureaucratic Discretion or Congressional Control? Regulatory Policymaking by the Federal Trade Commission," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(5), pages 765-800, October.
  19. Benjamin Powell, 2012. "Coyote ugly: the deadweight cost of rent seeking for immigration policy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(1), pages 195-208, January.
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