Does Border Enforcement Protect U.S. Workers from Illegal Immigration?

51 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 1999 Last revised: 5 May 2000

See all articles by Gordon H. Hanson

Gordon H. Hanson

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Raymond Robertson

Macalester College - Department of Economics

Antonio Spilimbergo

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Research Department; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - The William Davidson Institute

Date Written: March 1999

Abstract

In this paper, we examine the impact of government enforcement of the U.S.-Mexican border on wages in the border regions of the United States and Mexico. The U.S. Border Patrol polices U.S. boundaries, seeking to apprehend any individual attempting to enter the United States illegally. These efforts are concentrated on the Mexican border, as most illegal immigrants embark from a Mexican border city and choose a U.S. border state as their final destination. We examine labor markets in southern California, southwestern Texas, and Mexican cities on the U.S.-Mexico border. For each region, we have high-frequency time-series data on wages and on the number of person hours that the U.S. Border Patrol spends policing border areas. For a range of empirical specifications and definitions of regional labor markets, we find little impact of border enforcement on wages in U.S. border cities and a moderate negative impact of border enforcement on wages in Mexican border cities. These findings are consistent with two hypothesis: (1) border enforcement has a minimal impact on illegal immigration, or (2) immigration from Mexico has a minimal impact on wages in U.S. border cities.

Suggested Citation

Hanson, Gordon H. and Robertson, Raymond E. and Spilimbergo, Antonio, Does Border Enforcement Protect U.S. Workers from Illegal Immigration? (March 1999). NBER Working Paper No. w7054. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=157840

Gordon H. Hanson (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Raymond E. Robertson

Macalester College - Department of Economics ( email )

1600 Grand Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55105
United States

Antonio Spilimbergo

International Monetary Fund (IMF) - Research Department ( email )

700 19th Street NW
Washington, DC 20431
United States
202-623-6346 (Phone)
202-623-6336 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - The William Davidson Institute ( email )

724 E. University Ave.
Wyly Hall
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1234
United States

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