Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: “Keeping Immigrants out” or Hindering Immigrant Integration? the Impact of the 287(g) Program on Immigrant Family Food Insecurity

Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 3:50 PM
Stanford (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Stephanie Potochnick, University of Missouri, Columbia, Jen-Hao Chen, University of Missouri and Krista Perreira, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
State and local governments have increasingly adopted local policies as a means to either “integrate” or “keep out” immigrants. As a result, local policies vary widely and immigrants’ access to education, health, and employment resources differs dramatically, depending on where they live. The largest and most consistent localized effort to regulate immigration has been the adoption of the 287(g) program.

Authorized by congress in 1996, the 287(g) program deputizes state and local law enforcement agencies to apprehend individuals thought to be residing in the country illegally. Since then, 74 law enforcement agencies have adopted a 287(g) program. While the intent of 287(g) is to target criminals, law enforcement agents have been criticized for grossly misusing it to deport as many unauthorized immigrants as possible. A key concern about the 287(g) program is that local communities use it as a tool to push or keep immigrants out.  Large-scale quantitative research on the program, however, finds little evidence that it has impacted the size of the immigrant population most likely to be undocumented, Mexican immigrants.

So if immigrants are staying in these communities, what are the implications? Qualitative evidence from the Urban Institute indicates that deportations resulting from the 287(g) program place significant strain on immigrant families, leading to long-term separation of family members and increased economic hardship. Children in these families experience more food insecurity, emotional/behavioral problems, and school failure.

In this study, we utilize the Current Population Survey Food Supplemental Survey (CPS-FSS) to assess how the 287(g) program has impacted the risk of food insecurity among immigrant children and families. We focus on 287(g) programs adopted in Metropolitan areas because lower geographic areas are not identified in the public use CPS. We utilize a difference-in-difference model to identify a policy effect based on differences in the outcome pre- and post-policy between undocumented immigrants (Mexican foreign-born non-citizen proxy) covered and not covered by the policy, net of outcome trends of non-Latinos, and accounting for variation across MSAs, over time, and within MSAs over time.

Preliminary results indicate that the 287(g) program increases immigrant children’s risk of food insecurity. The adoption of a 287(g) programs increases the likelihood of experiencing food insecurity for children in Mexican FBNC households by six percentage points—a result that remains robust to individual and geographic controls. No policy effect is found among the non-Latino sample as expected. For Latinos, however, the results suggest potential spillover effects with food insecurity rates increasing by about 3 percentage points for children in Latino households. These spillover effects likely reflect the mixed status nature of Latino households as well as racial profiling consequences that have been associated with the 287(g) program.