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Post-9/11 immigration enforcement lowered demand for undocumented workers

April 29, 2009

Dallas, TX--April 29, 2009-- A recent study in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management shows that as a result of a variety of interior enforcement initiatives implemented in 2002-2005, such as the ramping up of the Social Security no-match program, employers' demand for undocumented workers fell. This led to an erosion of the wages and employment opportunities of recent low-education male immigrants from Latin America with potentially negative implications for U.S. taxpayers.

The study's results show that increases in immigration-related law enforcement since September 2001 unfavorably affected the labor market for low-education, male immigrants from Latin America, a group that composes the bulk of undocumented workers in the U.S.

Consequently, their wages, employment, and hours worked all fell relative to similar low-education black and Hispanic native men and immigrants who have been in the U.S. longer.

"Interior enforcement without comprehensive immigration reform can be a lose-lose proposition," the authors conclude. "As illegal immigrants and their families are pushed closer to poverty and into greater dependence on public assistance, both the immigrant and the taxpayer may lose out."

Pia Orrenius, Ph.D., and Madeline Zavodny, Ph.D., used Current Population Survey data and statistical estimation techniques to examine whether immigration laws since 2001 have affected the demand for undocumented workers.
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This study is published in the Spring 2009 issue of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Media wishing to receive a PDF of this article may contact journalnews@bos.blackwellpublishing.net.

Pia Orrenius is affiliated with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and can be reached for questions at pia.orrenius@dal.frb.org.

Journal of Policy Analysis and Management encompasses issues and practices in policy analysis and public management. Listed among the contributors are economists, public managers, and operations researchers. Featured regularly are book reviews and a department devoted to discussing ideas and issues of importance to practitioners, researchers, and academics.

Wiley-Blackwell was formed in February 2007 as a result of the acquisition of Blackwell Publishing Ltd. by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and its merger with Wiley's Scientific, Technical, and Medical business. Together, the companies have created a global publishing business with deep strength in every major academic and professional field. Wiley-Blackwell publishes approximately 1,400 scholarly peer-reviewed journals and an extensive collection of books with global appeal. For more information on Wiley-Blackwell, please visit www.wiley.com or http://interscience.wiley.com.

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