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

Author

Listed:
  • 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Pia M. Orrenius & Madeline Zavodny, 2001. "Do amnesty programs encourage illegal immigration? Evidence from the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)," FRB Atlanta Working Paper 2001-19, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2001-19
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Gordon H. Hanson & Raymond Robertson & Antonio Spilimbergo, 2002. "Does Border Enforcement Protect U.S. Workers From Illegal Immigration?," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(1), pages 73-92, February.
    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. Frank Bean & B. Lowell & Lowell Taylor, 1988. "Undocumented Mexican immigrants and the earnings of other workers in the United States," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 25(1), pages 35-52, February.
    4. C. Bansak & S. Raphael, "undated". "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.
    5. Cynthia Bansak & Steven Raphael, 2001. "Immigration Reform and the Earnings of Latino Workers: Do Employer Sanctions Cause Discrimination?," ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 54(2), pages 275-295, January.
    6. Katharine Donato & Jorge Durand & Douglas Massey, 1992. "Stemming the tide? Assessing the deterrent effects of the immigration reform and control act," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 29(2), pages 139-157, May.
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    Keywords

    Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986;

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