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The Unintended Consequences of U.S. Immigration Enforcement Policies
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2021)
  • Emily Ryo
U.S. immigration enforcement policy seeks to change the behaviors and views of not only individuals in the United States but also those of prospective migrants outside the United States.  Yet we still know relatively little about the behavioral and attitudinal effects of U.S. enforcement policy on the population abroad.  This study uses a randomized experiment embedded in a nationally representative survey that was administered in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico to analyze the effects of U.S. deterrence policies on individuals’ migration intentions and their attitudes toward the U.S. immigration system.  The two policies that the current study examines are immigration detention and nonjudicial removals.  The survey results provide no evidence that a heightened awareness of these U.S. immigration enforcement policies affects individuals’ intentions to migrate to the United States.  But heightened awareness about the widespread use of immigration detention in the United States does negatively impact individuals’ assessments about the procedural and outcome fairness of the U.S. immigration system.  These findings suggest that immigration detention may foster delegitimating beliefs about the U.S. legal system without producing the intended deterrent effect.
  • immigration enforcement,
  • detention,
  • deportation,
  • deterrence,
  • legal socialization
Publication Date
May 17, 2021
Citation Information
Emily Ryo. "The Unintended Consequences of U.S. Immigration Enforcement Policies" Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Vol. 118 (2021)
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