Kara Ross Camarena, Ernesto Tiburcio

The Local Reaction to Unauthorized Mexican Migration to the US

Abstract: We study the political impacts of unauthorized Mexican migration to the United States. Our identification strategy relies on exogenous variation in Mexican municipalities and migrant networks from data on over 7 million likely unauthorized migrants who obtained consular IDs. We find evidence of conservative electoral and policy responses. Unauthorized migration significantly increases the vote share of the Republican Party in federal elections, decreases spending on education, and increases relative spending on policing and on the administration of justice. Among the mechanisms we explore, job loss in “migrant intensive” sectors and an increase in poverty best explain the political reaction. We also document subsequent out-migration and heightened in-group values among US natives. By contrast, unauthorized migration inflows have no discernible impact on wages, unemployment, or crime rates. We find suggestive evidence the main political impacts of unauthorized migration, and their drivers, are smaller in counties that have more progressive taxation or a more generous social safety net.

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The University of Chicago