Health and Mental Health Effects of Local Immigration Enforcement
We study the effect of two local immigration enforcement policies – Section 287(g) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act and the Secure Communities Program (SC) – that have escalated fear and risk of deportation among the undocumented on the health and mental health outcomes of Latino immigrants living in the United States. We use the restricted-use National Health Interview Survey for 2000-2012 and adopt a difference-in-difference research design. Estimates suggest that SC increased the proportion of Latino immigrants with mental health distress by 2.2 percentage points (14.7 percent); Task Force Enforcement under Section 287(g) worsened their mental health distress scores by 15 percent (0.08 standard deviation); Jail Enforcement under Section 287(g) increased the proportion of Latino immigrants reporting fair or poor health by 1 percentage point (11.1 percent) and lowered the proportion reporting very good or excellent health by 4.8 to 7.0 percentage points (7.8 to 10.9 percent). These findings are robust across various sensitivity checks.
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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24487