DP12790 What drives the legalization of immigrants? Evidence from IRCA

Author(s): Alessandra Casarico, Giovanni Facchini, Tommaso Frattini
Publication Date: March 2018
Keyword(s): amnesties, migration policy, Roll Call Votes
JEL(s): F22, O51
Programme Areas: Labour Economics, International Trade and Regional Economics
Link to this Page: www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12790

We develop a model to understand the trade-offs faced by an elected representative in supporting an amnesty when a restrictive immigration policy is in place. We show that an amnesty is more desirable the more restricted are the occupational opportunities of undocumented immigrants and the smaller is the fiscal leakage to undocumented immigrants via the welfare state. Empirical evidence based on the voting behaviour of U.S. Congressmen on the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 provides strong support for the predictions of our theoretical model.