Research

Understanding Establishment-Level ICE Audits (JMP)

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There is substantial controversy, but little information, about Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s (ICE’s) efforts to find and deport undocumented individuals living in the United States. Data on ICE’s establishment-level audits has, until now, been scarce, making it difficult to assess what instigates them, their importance in ICE’s overall domestic operations, and what impacts they have on economic outcomes. I use new data from a Freedom of Information Act request on ICE’s establishment audits to evaluate their causes and consequences. I find that Secure Community roll-out, which facilitates jail audits, reduces the number of establishment ICE audits by seven percent at the county level. Further, I find little evidence that establishment audits affect formal sector employment rates among Hispanics or non-Hispanics at the county level. I also find little indication that establishment audits affect local crime rates. While establishment audits frequently receive media attention and may have important direct implications for audited employers and their workers, my findings suggest that they have limited broader economic impact.

Pulling Up Stakes During Employment Aches: Unemployment Insurance and Migration

Despite the extensive prior work on unemployment insurance (UI), the question of how UI generosity affects the likelihood individuals migrate remains predominantly unanswered. Using data from the Survey on Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and a state-biannual panel of UI policies, I analyze the effects of UI generosity on the likelihood that an individual moves. Results from a linear probability model show that the relationship is positive for individuals that are eligible for UI, but the estimates are imprecisely measured. I then test for heterogeneous effects among groups with a higher propensity to migrate. The results suggest that people with no children and who are younger are more likely to migrate in response to greater UI generosity. My results indicate that higher levels of UI generosity induce eligible people to move, but these effects are modest.

Migration in Response to Long-Run Weather Variation

Global climate change is altering the landscape for farmers in developed and developing countries, causing them to adapt to new weather conditions. Using migration data from the Mexican Migration Project and a drought index from climate variables, I look at the relationship between short and medium-run changes in climate conditions on household migration decisions to the US from municipalities across Mexico. I find no relationship between short-term variation in the drought index and migration decisions. However, variation over three year averages in my climate variable will increase the probability that an individual will migrate to the United States. Using measures of destination-specific networks, I can also test whether the mechanism behind responses to long-run changes in climatic variables are linked to the progressive building of networks or if they are independent of these.