Labor market outcomes for legal mexican immigrants under the new regime of immigration enforcement

Kerstin Gentsch, Douglas S. Massey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Objectives. This article documents the effects of increasingly restrictive immigration and border policies on Mexican migrant workers in the United States. Methods. Drawing on data from the Mexican Migration Project, we create a data file that links age, education, English-language ability, and cumulative U.S. experience in three legal categories (documented, undocumented, guest worker) to the occupational status and wage attained by migrant household heads on their most recent U.S. trip. Results. We find that the wage and occupational returns to various forms of human capital generally declined after harsher policies were imposed and enforcement dramatically increased after 1996, especially for U.S. experience and English-language ability. Conclusion. These results indicate that the labor-market status of legal immigrants has deteriorated significantly in recent years as larger shares of the migrant workforce came to lack labor rights, either because they were undocumented or because they held temporary visas that did not allow mobility or bargaining over wages and working conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-893
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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