Deterring Illegal Entry: Migrant Sanctions and Recidivism in Border Apprehensions
Over 2008 to 2012, the U.S. Border Patrol enacted new sanctions on migrants apprehended attempting to enter the U.S. illegally. Using administrative records on apprehensions of Mexican nationals that include fingerprint-based IDs and other details, we detect if an apprehended migrant is subject to penalties and if he is later re-apprehended. Exploiting plausibly random variation in the roll-out of sanctions, we estimate econometrically that exposure to penalties reduced the 18-month re-apprehension rate for males by 4.6 to 6.1 percentage points off of a baseline rate of 24.2%. These magnitudes imply that sanctions can account for 28 to 44 percent of the observed decline in recidivism in apprehensions. Further results suggest that the drop in recidivism was associated with a reduction in attempted illegal entry.
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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25100