The Effect of Restrictive State Policies on Undocumented Immigrants in the United States

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Event Type: 
Brown Bag
Date and Time: 
Thursday, March 29, 2018
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

Between 1990 and 2016, the number of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. tripled in size, from 3.5 million to 11.3 million, with a peak of 12.2 million in 2007. Undocumented immigrants pose a vexing challenge to population researchers. On the one hand, they are near the top of the public policy discourse as the United States continues to grapple with comprehensive immigration reform. Therefore, understanding this population is paramount to creating effective policies and solutions. On the other hand, by definition, undocumented immigrants often “live in the shadows” and thus are not clearly identifiable in traditional data sources used by population researchers. In this presentation, I will showcase two methods used to identify likely undocumented immigrants in the Current Population Survey and the Center for Disease Control’s Natality-Limited Geography files. With these two data sources, I will present the results from two separate analyses that exploit variation in state policies to examine their effects on undocumented immigrants. The first analysis aims to estimate the effect of state policies that extend or deny in-state college tuition to undocumented immigrants on high school enrollment of likely undocumented students. The second analysis aims to estimate the effect of state policies that require employers to verify legal status on the birthweight of children born to likely undocumented women.