Panel Paper: Sanctuary Ordinances and the Economic and Health Outcomes of Immigrants

Saturday, November 10, 2018
Marriott Balcony A - Mezz Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Xi Huang and Christian King, University of Central Florida

Immigration policymaking in the U.S. has been increasingly localized and polarized over the past two decades, with enforcement policies on the one end and inclusionary ordinances on the other. Absent federal immigration reform, these local policies have important implications for the lives of immigrants. While much research has focused on the impacts of anti-immigration laws on immigrant welfare, only a few studies examine the policy effects of inclusionary policies such as sanctuary jurisdictions with a focus on crime and local economies.

Sanctuary policies are argued to not only protect the safety of immigrants but also increase their trust in local officials and participation in community activities, contributing to better economic and health outcomes. Using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and the American Community Survey, this paper tests whether the adoption of sanctuary policies affects economic and health outcomes for immigrants. Specifically, it uses a triple-difference approach to compare the before-and-after changes between the likely impacted immigrant population and the comparable local native-born population across counties with and without sanctuary laws and practices. The same approach is used for the analysis of the health care utilization and health outcomes of the policy.

This project aims to contribute to the literature on the health effect of local immigration policies and more broadly, the role of social and political dynamics in shaping the health of vulnerable populations. It will also provide empirical evidence to the political discourse of a critical immigration policy piece.