Border Enforcement as a Deterrent of Illegal Immigration: Evidence from Return Mexican Migrants

Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, San Diego State University and Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC)
Cynthia Bansak, San Diego State University

Over the past several decades, border enforcement has intensified with the intent to reduce unauthorized Mexican immigration into the United States. While previous studies, e.g. Kossoudji (1992), document the persistence of undocumented Mexican immigrants trying to cross the border, past research has been restricted to small return migrant samples pre-IRCA. In this study, we examine how border enforcement deters repeated crossing attempts. However, unlike earlier studies, we are able to use a large representative sample of undocumented Mexican migrants interviewed upon their return to Mexico over the 1993-2003 decade – a period of time during which a variety of border enforcement operations were implemented. We first estimate the probability of crossing based upon previous apprehensions or changes in border enforcement intensity. Subsequently, using sample selection and count models, we examine how border enforcement, along with wage gains and migration costs, influence the number of crossing attempts.

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Presented in Session 22: Undocumented Migrants