What Are the Effects of State Level Legislation Against the Hiring of Undocumented Immigrants?

Magnus Lofstrom, Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)
Sarah Bohn, Public Policy Institute of California
Steven Raphael, University of California, Berkeley

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 included measures to deter the employment and stem the flow of undocumented immigrants. The growth of this population from about 4 million to 12 million in 2008 is evidence that this interior enforcement legislation largely failed. In the absence of federal immigration reform, states have created their own interior enforcement mechanisms, such as Arizona’s Legal Arizona Workers Act (LAWA), arguably the most comprehensive of state efforts. Our initial analysis of changes in response to LAWA indicates a substantial decrease in employment levels of immigrants. This paper is the first to estimate the individual level impact of state legislation against the hiring of undocumented immigrants. In particular, we assess whether such legislation reduces employment probabilities and wages for foreign-born non-citizens most likely to be undocumented as well as the labor market outcomes of observably documented workers, such as naturalized immigrants or the native-born.

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Presented in Session 188: Immigrants and the Labor Market