Effects of Immigrant Legalization on Crime: The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act
46 Pages Posted: 4 May 2011 Last revised: 1 Aug 2014
Date Written: July 28, 2014
I examine the effects that the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which legalized almost 3 million immigrants, had on crime in the United States. I exploit the IRCA's quasi-random timing as well as geographic variation in the intensity of treatment to isolate causal impacts. I find decreases in crime of 2%-6%, primarily due to decline in property crimes, equivalent to 80,000-240,000 fewer violent and property crimes committed each year due to legalization. I calibrate a labor market model of crime, finding that much of the drop in crime can be explained by greater labor market opportunities among applicants.
Keywords: Immigration, Crime, Policy, Amnesty, Legalization, Legal Status
JEL Classification: F22, J22, J61, K37, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation