While immigration enforcement programs are typically targeted at unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., it is less clear how they indirectly affect U.S. citizens who are linked to these communities of unauthorized immigrants. Of particular interest is the Hispanic sub-population, which is the most exposed community, with approximately three-quarters of the unauthorized population in the U.S. coming from Latin American today (Migration Policy Institute, 2020).
This project seeks to examine the indirect, unintended effects of the enforcement of U.S. immigration laws on the health behavior and outcomes of U.S. Hispanic citizens. Although American citizens are not subject to deportation, having members of their ethnic/racial community who are at risk of deportation and/or fearing being mistakenly arrested and detained may constitute an important source of stress for them. Consequently, they may, for instance, fear that their own behavior and interactions with governmental institutions and employees reveal their social network and ultimately lead to the removal of unauthorized members of their community.
To investigate the extent to which tightening immigration policy may indirectly affect the health behavior and status of U.S. Hispanic citizens, I plan to examine various immigration enforcement programs – i.e., the staggered rollout across counties of Secure Communities between 2008 and 2014 and its reactivation in 2017, as well as the Priority Enforcement Program between 2015 and 2017. The empirical analysis will essentially consist in exploiting the timing of the aforementioned immigration enforcement policies and comparing the evolution of outcomes (i.e., measures of health behavior and status) for Hispanics to those for non-Hispanic white and Black individuals (the Black population would here serve as a placebo group).
This project is still a work-in-progress (in part because a data application is still pending) but some preliminary analysis of the Secure Communities program suggests that there indeed exist some negative spillover effects of that program on the health of U.S. Hispanic citizens. In particular, diff-in-diff-diff and event-study analyses indicate that Hispanics are less likely to visit a doctor for a routine check-up after the implementation of Secure Communities in their county. They are also less likely to have a health coverage
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