Violent Crime and the Long Shadow of Immigration Enforcement: Evidence from Mexico
49 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2020
Date Written: November 5, 2020
Whereas the literature on post-deportation experiences has emphasized difficult labor market integration and social stigma associated with involuntary return, the broader effects of enforced return in migrants’ communities of origin have remained largely unexplored. This paper postulates that deportations increase levels of violence and crime when migrants are forced to return to a context where labor market opportunities are limited and that are dominated by organized crime. This hypothesis is tested by applying a two-step strategy to the case of Mexico, receiver of more than 3.5 million deportees from the US over the period 2000 to 2015. First step regressions use migrant’s exposure to deportation risk at the level of US states as an exogenous source of variation. This permits predicting rates of enforced return for more than 2,000 Mexican municipalities covering up to four 5-year intervals from 2000 to 2015. Second step regressions trace the causal effect of enforced return on indicators of violence and crime during a period of escalating violence since the mid-2000s, using municipal level indicators and household level survey data. Enforced return leads to more homicides and more cartel competition in migrants’ municipalities of origin, as well as a higher sense of insecurity among the population and a higher probability of being assaulted or kidnapped. These external effects of enforced return are a first step towards unpacking the various direct and indirect channels through which enforced return affects migrants’ communities of origin.
Keywords: Immigration Enforcement, Violence, Organized Crime, Deportations, Mexico
JEL Classification: D74, F22, O15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation