Do Local Policies Attract or Deter Unauthorized Immigrants?
2019 American Democracy Fellowship
Proposals about how to respond to the estimated 11 million immigrants residing in the United States without authorization abound. Some argue that unauthorized immigrants are unlikely to leave and should thus be integrated into American society. Others, in turn, claim that inclusive policies will only attract more unauthorized immigrants. Yet, while state and local governments have recently implemented very different policies toward unauthorized immigrants, we know very little about their effects. Do welcoming policies attract more unauthorized immigrants? And do exclusionary policies encourage them to leave? Or are other factors more important in shaping unauthorized immigrants' migration decisions? My research answers these questions by conducting one of the first survey experiments among likely unauthorized immigrants in the United States. The survey examines the relative importance of local policies vis-à-vis other factors—such as employment opportunities or social networks—in shaping unauthorized immigrants’ location choice.