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

Panel Paper: Health Effects of Local Immigration Enforcement on Mexican Immigrants in the US

Saturday, November 14, 2015 : 10:35 AM
Stanford (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Julia Shu-Huah Wang and Neeraj Kaushal, Columbia University
We study the effect of local immigration enforcement that has escalated fear and risk of deportation among the undocumented on the health and mental health outcomes of Mexican immigrants living in the United States. In 1996, the US government passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). Section 287(g) of IIRIRA grants state and local jurisdictions the choice to enter into agreements with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to participate in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Because participation in Section 287(g) is discretionary, some state and local law enforcement agencies have decided not to engage in this program and some have opted to participate. The number of localities pursuing 287(g) agreements has increased from two in 2002 to close to 80 in 2009 across 26 states. As a result, tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants are removed annually from prison or during policing operations.

We use the restricted-use National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) data (1998-2013) and link county-level 287(g) policy variables to study the effect of local immigration enforcement on the health and mental health outcomes of Mexican immigrants. The analytic sample is restricted to families where at least one parent is noncitizen and born in Mexico. We separately analyze the health of adults aged 18-59 and children. There is no scientific research on how immigration policy environment affects immigrant health, in general, and how state- and local-activism on immigration enforcement has influenced the health behaviors, health and mental health of immigrant families. Discussions on state- and local activism on immigration are carried out with the assumption that these policies only affect the undocumented and not their family members, who are, in a vast majority, US citizens or legal residents. Our proposed research bridges this critical knowledge gap.