Poster Paper: Interior Immigration Enforcement and Political Participation of U.S. Citizens in Mixed-Status Households

Friday, November 4, 2016
Columbia Ballroom (Washington Hilton)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, San Diego State University, Mary Lopez, Occidental College and Mehmet Erdem Yaya, Eastern Michigan University

The past two decades have witnessed an expansion of interior immigration enforcement. At the same time, the United States has been experiencing a major demographic transformation, with the share of U.S. citizens living in mixed-status households –household where, at least, one family member is an unauthorized migrant– reaching 16 million. U.S. citizens living in mixedstatus households are personally connected to the struggles experienced by their unauthorized family members. For them, immigration policy is likely to shape their current and future voting behavior. Using data from the 2002 through 2014 Current Population Survey Voting and Registration Supplements, we examine if intensified enforcement has impacted the political
engagement of U.S. citizens living in mixed-status households. We find that enforcement has chilled their political participation by lowering their propensity to register by 9 percent; however, it has not visibly impacted their voting propensity among those registered. Importantly, their lower registration likelihood does not seem to reflect indifference for community and public matters, as it as been accompanied by greater involvement in other forms of civic engagement, such as volunteering. Understanding how immigration policy is impacting the political participation of a fast growing segment of the electorate is imperative, as they will inevitably constitute a rapidly rising political force in future elections.