The Effects of Legalization on Migrant Remittances
Remittances to Latin America have been increasing at rather dramatic rates in recent years. As some countries have grown accustomed to remittances, policy-makers have become increasingly worried about the stability of these transfers. US immigration policy, via its impact on immigration inflows and the immigrant stock, can significantly affect future remittances. This study investigates how a generalized amnesty, a provision in the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), affected remitting patterns of immigrants from Latin America. Using the Legalized Population Survey––a nationally representative sample of undocumented immigrants who benefited from IRCA’s main amnesty program––we find that legalization had a statistically and economically significant negative impact on remittances sent home, particularly among Mexicans. Indeed, back-of-the-envelope calculations show that a current amnesty would significantly lower remittances sent to Mexico, and this would, in turn, result in sizeable foregone investment and education funds.
KeywordsFamily Composition Undocumented Immigrant Dollar Amount Undocumented Migrant Mexican Migrant
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