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An Exploration of State-level Differences in Migration Control and their Effects on US Migration Patterns

Governments in Western Europe and North America increasingly try to exclude unauthorized migrants from labor markets and public provisions, and apprehend and deport unauthorized migrants who have settled in the territory.

This presentation, which focuses on the case of the USA, demonstrates that such policies and practices of ‘internal border control’ can be measured; it is shown that since 2005 in particular, internal border control has become more prevalent in the USA, especially in Southern states.

Evidence is presented for a negative bivariate relationship between the degree of internal border control and the estimated rate of growth of unauthorized residence; states with the highest degree of interior control tended to experience the strongest decline in the growth of the unauthorized population. We mention four plausible interpretations of this bivariate relationship, and suggest various avenues for further research.

The results are based on a primary analysis of three indicators of internal control (employer participation in E-verify, restrictive state laws, county and city involvement in the 287g program) and a secondary analysis of unauthorized population estimates.