Thursday, May 17, 2018
Immigration Article of the Day: Fear and the Safety Net: Evidence from Secure Communities by Marcella Alsan and Crystal Yang
We study the impact of deportation fear on the incomplete take-up of federal safety net programs in the United States. We exploit changes in deportation fear due to the roll-out and intensity of Secure Communities (SC), an immigration enforcement program administered by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) from 2008 to 2014. The SC program empowers the federal government to check the immigration status of anyone arrested by local law enforcement agencies and has led to the issuance of over two million detainers and the forcible removal of approximately 380,000 immigrants. We estimate the spillover effects of SC on Hispanic citizens, finding significant declines in ACA sign-ups and food stamp take-up, particularly among mixed-status households and areas where deportation fear is highest. In contrast, we find little response to SC among 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.