Economic and Social Consequences of Undocumented Immigration
(Population and Migration Issues)
Thursday, November 12, 2015: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Stanford (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Stephanie Potochnick, University of Missouri, Columbia
Panel Chairs: Julia Gelatt, Urban Institute
Discussants: Krista Perreira, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Robert Santillano, Mathematica Policy Research
Currently there is a vigorous, national debate underway to determine the best way to fix America’s immigration system. This debate has mostly focused on undocumented immigration and how to manage the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. today. Making up nearly one-third of the foreign-born population, the unauthorized immigrant population consists of large numbers of adults, parents and children, and at least half of all U.S.-born Mexican-origin children live in a household with one unauthorized parent. As a consequence, the challenges associated with undocumented immigration are far reaching affecting not only undocumented immigrants but mixed status families and future immigrant generations.
This panel examines the influences and consequences of legal status on economic and social well-being of immigrants and immigrant families. Research on the association between legal status and immigrant incorporation is of growing importance due to the increasingly complex and fragmented immigration enforcement regime. In the absence of federal immigration reform, the unauthorized immigrant population has been relegated to low-wage jobs and informal employment opportunities; subjected to increased internal enforcement of illegal migration by states and localities; and largely barred from access to the social safety net. These social and economic barriers are likely to pose major obstacles to the incorporation of immigrant adults and their U.S.-born children, particularly as they transition into adulthood.
This panel draws on a diverse set of nationally-representative datasets, including the American Community Survey, Survey of Income and Program Participation, the Current Population Survey, and some proprietary administrative data in California, to address a wide range of challenges facing undocumented immigrants and mixed status families. Together these papers highlight that undocumented status is a disruptive force that can hinder the job mobility of undocumented immigrant adults, the educational and family formation transitions of undocumented children, the food security of undocumented immigrant families, and the participation in safety net programs even among eligible immigrants. Moreover, we emphasize how localized policy efforts to enforce immigration law can exacerbate many of these challenges. In combination, our papers provide insight into the multi-faceted policy approach that will be required to promote the economic and social incorporation of undocumented immigrants, their families, and their future generations.