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The Rhetoric of Closed Borders: Quotas, Lax Enforcement and Illegal Migration

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  • Facchini, Giovanni

    (University of Nottingham)

  • Testa, Cecilia

    (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Abstract

This paper studies why illegal immigration is widespread. We develop a political agency model in which a politician decides on an immigration target and its enforcement, facing uncertainty on the supply of migrants. Illegal immigration can arise for two reasons: the policy maker may be unable to enforce the target because supply is higher than expected; alternatively, he may underinvest in enforcement because of electoral concerns, and this occurs only when the incumbent and the majority of voters have different preferences over immigration. Empirical evidence provides strong support for our predictions, highlighting how electoral concerns shape illegal immigration flows.

Suggested Citation

  • Facchini, Giovanni & Testa, Cecilia, 2014. "The Rhetoric of Closed Borders: Quotas, Lax Enforcement and Illegal Migration," IZA Discussion Papers 8457, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8457
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. "The Rhetoric of Closed Borders"
      by Mark Thoma in Economist's View on 2011-04-28 12:15:00

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    Cited by:

    1. Basu, Arnab K. & Chau, Nancy H. & Park, Brian, 2022. "Rethinking border enforcement, permanent and circular migration," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 108(C).
    2. Emmanuelle Auriol & Alice Mesnard, 2016. "Sale of Visas: a Smuggler's Final Song?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(332), pages 646-678, October.
    3. Alessandra Casarico & Giovanni Facchini & Tommaso Frattini, 2012. "Spending more is spending less: on the desirability of enforcing migration," Norface Discussion Paper Series 2012006, Norface Research Programme on Migration, Department of Economics, University College London.
    4. Emmanuelle Auriol & Alice Mesnard, 2016. "Sale of Visas: a Smuggler's Final Song?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(332), pages 646-678, October.
    5. Russo, Giuseppe & Salsano, Francesco, 2019. "Electoral systems and immigration," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C).
    6. Giovanni Facchini & Cecilia Testa, 2015. "The Political Economy of Migration Enforcement: Domestic Versus Border Control," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 61(3-4), pages 701-721.
    7. Verena Löffler, 2021. "Questioning the feasibility and justice of basic income accounting for migration," Politics, Philosophy & Economics, , vol. 20(3), pages 273-314, August.
    8. Casarico, Alessandra & Facchini, Giovanni & Frattini, Tommaso, 2018. "What drives the legalization of immigrants? Evidence from IRCA," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 258-273.
    9. Slobodan Djajić & Michael S. Michael, 2014. "Controlling Illegal Immigration: On the Scope for Cooperation with a Transit Country," Review of International Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(4), pages 808-824, September.
    10. Biavaschi, Costanza & Elsner, Benjamin, 2013. "Let's Be Selective about Migrant Self-Selection," IZA Discussion Papers 7865, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    11. Carlo Devillanova & Francesco Fasani & Tommaso Frattini, 2014. "Employment of Undocumented Immigrants and the Prospect of Legal Status: Evidence from an Amnesty Program," Development Working Papers 367, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 26 Jun 2014.
    12. Alessandra Casarico & Giovanni Facchini & Cecilia Testa, 2017. "Asylum Policy and Illegal Immigration: Perspectives and Challenges," ifo DICE Report, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 14(04), pages 14-20, February.
    13. Alessandra Casarico & Giovanni Facchini & Tommaso Frattini, 2015. "Illegal Immigration: Policy Perspectives and Challenges," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 61(3-4), pages 673-700.
    14. Alessandra Casarico & Giovanni Facchini & Tommaso Frattini, 2012. "Spending More is Spending Less: Policy Dilemmas on Irregular Migration," Development Working Papers 330, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano, revised 27 Mar 2012.
    15. Hakan İnal, 2015. "Voting over law enforcement: mission impossible," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 349-360, August.
    16. repec:ces:ifodic:v:14:y:2017:i:4:p:19271454 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Slobodan Djajic & Michael S. Michael, 2016. "Illegal Immigration, Foreign Aid, and the Transit Countries," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 62(3), pages 572-593.
    18. Alessandra Casarico & Giovanni Facchini & Tommaso Frattini, 2012. "What Drives Immigration Amnesties?," CESifo Working Paper Series 3981, CESifo.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    immigration policy; illegal immigration; political economy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F22 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Migration
    • J61 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Mobility, Unemployment, Vacancies, and Immigrant Workers - - - Geographic Labor Mobility; Immigrant Workers

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