NBER working paper 30811, Boston Fed 66th Economic Conference.

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic produced a significant decline in international immigration to the USA between 2020 and 2021. This paper documents the timing, characteristics, and heterogeneity of the change in immigration across states and economic sectors. Additionally, we describe the trends in internal native mobility in the USA prior to and after the pandemic, investigating whether natives responded to the decrease in immigration by relocating either geographically or across sectors. Despite the substantial drop in international migration, we do not observe any significant changes in native internal mobility. Employing a panel regression and a shift-share IV, we study the effect of foreign immigration, the emergence of remote-work, and changes in labor demand on cross-state native mobility. Our results indicate that the decline in immigration following COVID-19 and the differential availability of remote-work opportunities across sectors and states did not drive changes in natives’ cross- state or cross-sector mobility.

Working Papers

Abstract: This paper studies how violence due to the war on drugs in Mexico affects the social and economic integration of Mexican migrants in the United States. I combine detailed administrative data on Mexican migrants' municipal origins with US Census data on their naturalization, intermarriage, and economic behavior. To instrument for violence in Mexican municipalities, I use the interaction of the pre-war geographic distribution of drug trade organizations within Mexico and cocaine supply shocks originating in Colombia. Focusing on migrants who arrived in the US before the war on drugs, I find that violence significantly increases their propensity to naturalize and marry US citizens, particularly naturalized Mexicans. The marriage effects are larger for recent and less educated migrants and are more pronounced in areas where migratory networks are concentrated. However, I find no evidence of significant changes in labor market behavior or human capital accumulation. Overall, these results reflect a decrease in migrants' intentions to return to Mexico. Analysis using the Mexican Census suggests a reduction in return migration flows to municipalities experiencing heightened violence, which supports this mechanism.

Abstract: In 2012, the Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals (DACA) provided 800,000 undocumented immigrants with temporary work authorization and relief from deportation. However, the policy was significantly challenged by the Trump administration in 2017, creating uncertainty about its permanence and fate. This paper examines how this uncertainty affected the labor market outcomes and occupational choices of eligible undocumented migrants. Using a difference-in-difference methodology, I leverage discontinuities in DACA’s eligibility criteria to estimate the policy’s impacts between 2012 and 2019. I find positive effects on employment for eligible individuals in the early years after the policy’s implementation. The results also indicate an increase in employment in essential and licensed occupations. However, I show that the policy’s effects on labor market outcomes fade out in the wake of the 2017 uncertainty. I provide suggestive evidence that this decline is likely driven by fears of cancellation and uncertainty. These findings have important policy implications, as they highlight that challenging temporary policies and generating uncertainty surrounding the status of migrants, even without outright cancellation, can undermine the policies’ potential benefits.

Policy Briefs