Enforcement and Immigrant Location Choice

Tara Watson

NBER Working Paper No. 19626
Issued in November 2013
NBER Program(s):   HE   LE   LS   PE

This paper investigates the effect of local immigration enforcement regimes on the migration decisions of the foreign born. Specifically, the analysis uses individual level American Community Survey data to examine the effect of recent 287(g) agreements which allow state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce Federal immigration law. The results suggest that one type of 287(g) agreement - the controversial local "task force" model emphasizing street enforcement - nearly doubles the propensity for the foreign-born to relocate within the United States. The largest effects are observed among non-citizens with college education, suggesting that aggressive enforcement policies may be missing their intended targets. No similar effect is found for the native born. After the extreme case of Maricopa County is excluded, there is no evidence that local enforcement causes the foreign-born to exit the United States or deters their entry from abroad. Rather, 287(g) task force agreements encourage the foreign born to move to a new Census division or region within the United States.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.


The NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health provides summaries of publications like this.  You can sign up to receive the NBER Bulletin on Aging and Health by email.

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19626

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Watson w16278 Inside the Refrigerator: Immigration Enforcement and Chilling Effects in Medicaid Participation
Kerr, Kerr, and Lincoln w19658 Skilled Immigration and the Employment Structures of U.S. Firms
Stokey w19630 Wait-and-See: Investment Options under Policy Uncertainty
Zheng, Sun, Qi, and Kahn w19624 The Evolving Geography of China's Industrial Production: Implications for Pollution Dynamics and Urban Quality of Life
Gollin, Lagakos, and Waugh w19628 The Agricultural Productivity Gap
NBER Videos

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email:

Contact Us