Risk of Deportation and Location Decisions of Mexican Migrants in the United States

Hans Schwarz , University of Wisconsin-Madison

Interior immigration enforcement in the United States has increasingly become jurisdiction of local authorities. This regulatory transformation has increased the variability of deportation risk across locations. In this paper, I include deportation risk in the ex-ante location decision problem of potential Mexican migrants and deportation shocks in the ex-post locations of migrants. Wage differentials, border patrol enforcement, and ethnic enclaves are also included as migration determinants. I first construct a measure of local deportation risk from a representative survey of deported Mexican individuals for the period 1998-2013. Counterfactual results using the Mexican Migration Project show that local deportation risk does not significantly affect the location decision of new migrants. This decision is primarily driven by the historical ethnic enclave of the migrant’s source community. Finally, I conclude that the elasticity of the international migration rate with respect to deportation risk is substantially smaller than the elasticity with respect to wages.

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 Presented in Session 7. Migration & Urbanization