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Politics, Unemployment, and the Enforcement of Immigration Law

  • Michael D. Makowsky

    ()

    (Department of Economics, Towson University)

  • Thomas Stratmann

    ()

    (Department of Economics, George Mason University)

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 congressmen, agents acting on their behalf, and workers likely to compete with immigrants in the local labor market. In this paper we test to what extent congressional oversight, i.e., legislative involvement, determines the bureaucratic immigration enforcement process. We examine the determinants of decisions made at each stage of regulatory enforcement for over 40,000 audits from 1990 to 2000. This includes an analysis of the determinants of whether a firm is 1) found in violation, 2) whether a warning or fine issued, 3) the size of the fine issued, and 4) how much of dollar reduction fined employers were able to negotiate after the fact. Consistent with the hypothesis that locals will provide more tips to the enforcement agency when unemployment is high, we find that the number of audits conducted grows with increased local unemployment. We also find that a congressman's party affiliation and its interaction with committee membership, party rank, and party majority status, as well as firm size and local union membership, correlate to bureaucratic decisions made at every stage of immigration enforcement.

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File URL: http://www.towson.edu/cbe/economics/workingpapers/2012-04.pdf
File Function: First version, 2012
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Paper provided by Towson University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2012-04.

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Length: 41 pages
Date of creation: Mar 2012
Date of revision: Mar 2012
Handle: RePEc:tow:wpaper:2012-04
Contact details of provider: Postal: Towson, Maryland 21252-0001
Phone: 410-704-2959
Fax: 410-704-3424
Web page: http://www.towson.edu/cbe/economics/

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  1. 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.
  2. Facchini, Giovanni & Steinhardt, Max, 2011. "What Drives U.S. Immigration Policy? Evidence from Congressional Roll Call Votes," CEPR Discussion Papers 8299, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Hill, John K & Pearce, James E, 1990. "The Incidence of Sanctions against Employers of Illegal Aliens," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(1), pages 28-44, February.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Withers, Glenn & Pope, David, 1985. "Immigration and Unemployment," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 61(173), pages 554-63, June.
  7. 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.
  8. Gordon H. Hanson, 2006. "Illegal Migration from Mexico to the United States," NBER Working Papers 12141, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bryan Caplan, 2002. "Systematically Biased Beliefs About Economics: Robust Evidence of Judgemental Anomalies from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 433-458, April.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Gordon H. Hanson & Antonio Splimbergo, 1999. "Political Economy, Sectoral Shocks, and Border Enforcement," NBER Working Papers 7315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Terry M. Moe, 2012. "Delegation, Control, and the Study of Public Bureaucracy
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  14. George J. Borjas, 1994. "The Economic Benefits from Immigration," NBER Working Papers 4955, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. 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.
  16. Winegarden, C R & Khor, Lay Boon, 1991. "Undocumented Immigration and Unemployment of U.S. Youth and Minority Workers: Econometric Evidence," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(1), pages 105-12, February.
  17. 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.
  18. Ferejohn, John & Shipan, Charles, 1990. "Congressional Influence on Bureaucracy," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(0), pages 1-20.
  19. 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.
  20. Benjamin Powell, 2012. "Coyote ugly: the deadweight cost of rent seeking for immigration policy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(1), pages 195-208, January.
  21. Michael D. Makowsky & Thomas Stratmann, 2009. "Political Economy at Any Speed: What Determines Traffic Citations?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 509-27, March.
  22. McCubbins, Mathew D & Noll, Roger G & Weingast, Barry R, 1987. "Administrative Procedures as Instruments of Political Control," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 243-77, Fall.
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