Panel Paper: Can Immigration Enforcement Affect Worker Engagement and Productivity?

Thursday, November 8, 2018
Marriott Balcony A - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, San Diego State University and Francisca M. Antman, University of Colorado, Boulder

Anecdotal evidence suggests that media reports of immigration raids have led to heightened concerns about detention and deportation in the immigrant community. Fear of apprehension can impact the ease with which immigrants move about their daily lives and have a chilling effect on their willingness to engage in their regular labor market activities (Carman and Selk 2017, Uhler 2017).

In this context, we investigate if ICE removals, particularly non-criminal ones exclusively related to immigration violations, along with increased awareness of immigration raids and enforcement adversely impact workers’ labor market engagement, as captured by their employment, hours worked, absenteeism and changes in usual hours worked, among other outcomes. To that end, we link data on labor force outcomes from the Current Population Survey, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation data, and Google Trends data on immigration enforcement related searches.

In addition to the location (city and state) from which the individual departed, the ICE data contains information on the type of conviction and whether the apprehension was made in cooperation with local law enforcement agencies as part of ICE’s 287(g) program. We hypothesize that the impact of deportations on worker labor market engagement might be higher when deportations are made of individuals with non-serious criminal convictions or as part of a 287(g) program, as these are likely to instill greater fears in the population under study.

Nevertheless, because immigrants may respond to more than actual ICE removals, we also make use of data from Google Trends (GT) measuring the intensity of Google searches on immigration raids as a proxy for perceived threats and overall immigration enforcement awareness.1 We hypothesize that individuals might curtail their labor market engagement when the intensity of “ICE raids” related searches –a sign of possibly rising apprehension fear, increases.

While the nation continues to struggle with a legislative deadlock over immigration policy, immigration enforcement measures, such as ICE raids, constitute a form of de facto immigration policy by the executive branch. This proposal aims to evaluate the impact of these enforcement measures on labor force outcomes, to understand the consequences of these actions on the economy at large.