Three Essays on Minority and Immigrant Outcomes in a New Era of Immigration Enforcement

Evidence from Los Angeles

by Ashley N. Muchow

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Toward the end of the 20th century, the U.S. witnessed a wave of immigration made up of both legal residents and a large undocumented population that have since settled, started families, and developed strong community ties. Modern immigration policy has concentrated heavily on enforcement in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, and a growing body of research suggests these escalations may carry unintended social consequences.

This dissertation consists of three interrelated studies that seek to disentangle the structural factors that affect levels of economic and social integration of minority and immigrant populations. Using data from Los Angeles, this dissertation focuses on two aspects of public life critical to productive and healthy living: the labor market and public safety. The first chapter considers how undocumented immigrants fare in the labor market. The second examines whether recent escalations in immigration enforcement influenced the willingness of Latino immigrants to engage with the police. Finally, the third chapter evaluates the effectiveness of community policing in reducing crime and increasing police engagement in predominately-Latino neighborhoods.

Overall, this dissertation suggests that enforcement-focused immigration policy intensifies barriers to integration and may jeopardize public safety, but there are tools localities can use to improve conditions in affected communities. I find both real and perceived exclusions limit immigrants' access to the formal labor market and law enforcement, and conclude with evidence of a promising approach to improve public safety in minority communities. These findings stress the need for federal immigration policies that balance enforcement with maintaining resident confidence in public institutions and encouraging the well-being and advancement of vulnerable populations.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Exploring the Role of Legal Status on the Labor Market Outcomes of Immigrants in Los Angeles

  • Chapter Two

    Immigration Enforcement Awareness and Community Engagement with Police

  • Chapter Three

    Community Policing in Latino Neighborhoods

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This document was submitted as a dissertation in June 2019 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Lynn Karoly (Chair), Robert Bozick, and Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes (outside committee member).

This report is part of the RAND Corporation dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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