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The effects of tougher enforcement on the job prospects of recent Latin American immigrants


  • Pia M. Orrenius
  • Madeline Zavodny


Attempts to enforce immigration laws in the U.S. interior have proliferated in recent years, yet the effects of these laws on immigrants are largely unknown. This paper examines whether increases in immigration-related law enforcement since 2001 have adversely affected the labor market outcomes of low-education male immigrants from Latin America, a group that comprises the bulk of undocumented workers in the U.S. The crackdown on the use of fraudulent Social Security numbers, increased requirements for government-issued identification, and other changes associated with greater focus on national security likely lowered the demand for undocumented foreign-born workers in the years following the 9|11 terrorist attacks. Using Current Population Survey data and a difference-in-differences estimation technique, we find strong evidence of worse labor market outcomes among recent Latin American immigrants in the post-9|11 period relative to natives and prior Latin American immigrants. The results indicate a decline in employment, hours worked, and earnings among recent male Latin American immigrants relative to similarly low-skilled black and Hispanic natives and vis-à-vis Latin American immigrants who have been in the U.S. longer. Our findings are consistent with firms increasingly substituting legal workers for undocumented labor in the years following 9|11. © 2009 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Suggested Citation

  • Pia M. Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny, 2009. "The effects of tougher enforcement on the job prospects of recent Latin American immigrants," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(2), pages 239-257.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:28:y:2009:i:2:p:239-257 DOI: 10.1002/pam.20425

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Davila, Alberto & Pagan, Jose A, 1997. "The Effect of Selective INS Monitoring Strategies on the Industrial Employment Choice and Earnings of Recent Immigrants," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(1), pages 138-150, January.
    2. Erica L. Groshen & Simon M. Potter, 2003. "Has structural change contributed to a jobless recovery?," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 9(Aug).
    3. Gordon H. Hanson, 2006. "Illegal Migration from Mexico to the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 44(4), pages 869-924, December.
    4. Manuela Angelucci, 2012. "US Border Enforcement and the Net Flow of Mexican Illegal Migration," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(2), pages 311-357.
    5. Neeraj Kaushal & Robert Kaestner & Cordelia Reimers, 2007. "Labor Market Effects of September 11th on Arab and Muslim Residents of the United States," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 42(2).
    6. Cynthia Bansak, 2005. "The Differential Wage Impact of the Immigration Reform and Control Act on Latino Ethnic Subgroups," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 86(s1), pages 1279-1298.
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    Cited by:

    1. Chunbei Wang & Le Wang, 2012. "The effects of 9/11 on intermarriage between natives and immigrants to the U.S," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-192, June.
    2. Simone Schüller, 2016. "The Effects of 9/11 on Attitudes toward Immigration and the Moderating Role of Education," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 604-632, November.
    3. Mark Hoekstra & Sandra Orozco-Aleman, 2017. "Illegal Immigration, State Law, and Deterrence," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 228-252, May.
    4. David C. Ribar, 2013. "Immigrants’ time use: a survey of methods and evidence," Chapters,in: International Handbook on the Economics of Migration, chapter 20, pages 373-392 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Amuedo-Dorantes, Catalina & Arenas-Arroy, Esther, 2017. "Immigrant Fertility in the Midst of Intensified Enforcement," GLO Discussion Paper Series 1, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    6. Pia Orrenius, 2013. "How Do Tougher Immigration Measures Affect Unauthorized Immigrants?: Comment," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(3), pages 1101-1103, June.
    7. repec:bla:indres:v:56:y:2017:i:2:p:236-262 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Faisal Rabby & William Rodgers, 2011. "Post 9-11 U.S. Muslim Labor Market Outcomes," Atlantic Economic Journal, Springer;International Atlantic Economic Society, vol. 39(3), pages 273-289, September.
    9. Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes & Xing Jin & Susan Pozo, "undated". "Does E-Verify Discriminate against Hispanic Citizens?," Economics Working Papers 07-05/2015, School of Business Administration, American University of Sharjah.
    10. Watson, Tara, 2013. "Enforcement and immigrant location choice," Working Papers 13-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
    11. Tara Watson, 2014. "Inside the Refrigerator: Immigration Enforcement and Chilling Effects in Medicaid Participation," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 313-338, August.
    12. Orrenius, Pia M. & Zavodny, Madeline, 2011. "Trends in poverty and inequality among Hispanics," Working Papers 1109, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

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