Do Amnesty Programs Encourage Illegal Immigration? Evidence from the Immigration Reform and Control Act (Irca)

FRB Atlanta Working Paper No. 2001-19

23 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2001

See all articles by Pia M. Orrenius

Pia M. Orrenius

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Madeline Zavodny

University of North Florida; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; Agnes Scott College

Date Written: November 2001

Abstract

This paper examines whether allowing certain undocumented immigrants to legalize their status leads to additional illegal immigration. The authors focus on the effects of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which granted amnesty to over three million undocumented immigrants. They find that apprehensions of persons attempting to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border declined immediately following passage of the law but returned to normal levels during the period when illegal immigrants could file for amnesty and in the years thereafter. The authors' findings suggest that the amnesty program did not change long-term patterns of illegal immigration from Mexico.

Keywords: undocumented immigrants, illegal aliens, amnesty

JEL Classification: J61

Suggested Citation

Orrenius, Pia M. and Zavodny, Madeline, Do Amnesty Programs Encourage Illegal Immigration? Evidence from the Immigration Reform and Control Act (Irca) (November 2001). FRB Atlanta Working Paper No. 2001-19, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=289948 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.289948

Pia M. Orrenius (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas ( email )

PO Box 655906
Dallas, TX 75265-5906
United States
214-922-5747 (Phone)
214-922-5194 (Fax)

Madeline Zavodny

University of North Florida ( email )

4567 St. Johns Bluff Road, South
Jacksonville, FL 32224-2645
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Agnes Scott College ( email )

United States

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