Fear and the Safety Net: Evidence from Secure Communities

49 Pages Posted: 1 May 2018 Last revised: 11 Mar 2019

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 9, 2019


This paper studies how changes in deportation fear induced by the roll-out of Secure Communities (SC), a far-reaching immigration enforcement program, affected the demand for safety net programs in the United States. We estimate the spillover effect of SC on the take-up of federal means-tested programs by Hispanic citizens, who are not themselves eligible for removal. We find significant declines in SNAP and SSI enrollment, particularly among mixed-citizenship status households. The response is muted for Hispanic households residing in sanctuary cities. Our results are most consistent with network effects that perpetuate fear rather than lack of benefit information or stigma.

Keywords: Fear, Safety Net, Immigration Enforcement

JEL Classification: I14, I3, K00

Suggested Citation

Alsan, Marcella and Yang, Crystal, Fear and the Safety Net: Evidence from Secure Communities (March 9, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3162437 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3162437

Marcella Alsan

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Crystal Yang (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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