Novel Variants

Kevin Lewis

February 19, 2021

Narratives Shape Cognitive Representations of Immigrants and Immigration-Policy Preferences
Joel Martinez et al.
Psychological Science, February 2021, Pages 135-152


Scholars from across the social and media sciences have issued a clarion call to address a recent resurgence in criminalized characterizations of immigrants. Do these characterizations meaningfully impact individuals’ beliefs about immigrants and immigration? Across two online convenience samples (total N = 1,054 adult U.S. residents), we applied a novel analytic technique to test how different narratives -- achievement, criminal, and struggle-oriented -- impacted cognitive representations of German, Russian, Syrian, and Mexican immigrants and the concept of immigrants in general. All stories featured male targets. Achievement stories homogenized individual immigrant representations, whereas both criminal and struggle-oriented stories racialized them along a White/non-White axis: Germany clustered with Russia, and Syria clustered with Mexico. However, criminal stories were unique in making our most egalitarian participants’ representations as differentiated as our least egalitarian participants’. Narratives about individual immigrants also generalized to update representations of nationality groups. Most important, narrative-induced representations correlated with immigration-policy preferences: Achievement narratives and corresponding homogenized representations promoted preferences for less restriction, and criminal narratives promoted preferences for more.

Immigration Policies and Access to the Justice System: The Effect of Enforcement Escalations on Undocumented Immigrants and Their Communities
Reva Dhingra, Mitchell Kilborn & Olivia Woldemikael
Political Behavior, forthcoming


Does intensifying immigration enforcement lead to under-reporting of crime among undocumented immigrants and their communities? We empirically test the claims of activists and legal advocates that the escalation of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities in 2017 negatively impacted the willingness of undocumented immigrants and Hispanic communities to report crime. We hypothesize that ICE cooperation with local law enforcement, in particular, discourages undocumented immigrants and their Hispanic community members from reporting crime. Using a difference-in-difference approach and FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) data at the county level, we find that total reported crime fell from 2016 to 2017 in counties with higher shares of Hispanic individuals and in counties where local law enforcement had more cooperation with ICE. Using the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), we show that these declines in the measured crime rate are driven by decreased crime reporting by Hispanic communities rather than by decreased crime commission or victimization. Finally, we replicate these results in a second case study by leveraging the staggered roll-out of the 2008–2014 Secure Communities program across US counties. Taken together, our findings add to a growing body of literature demonstrating how immigration enforcement reduces vulnerable populations’ access to state services, including the criminal justice system.

Immigrant Sanctuary Policies and Crime-Reporting Behavior: A Multilevel Analysis of Reports of Crime Victimization to Law Enforcement, 1980 to 2004
Ricardo Martínez-Schuldt & Daniel Martínez
American Sociological Review, February 2021, Pages 154-185


Sanctuary jurisdictions have existed in the United States since the 1980s. They have recently reentered U.S. politics and engendered contentious debates regarding their legality and influence on public safety. Critics argue that sanctuary jurisdictions create conditions that threaten local communities by impeding federal immigration enforcement efforts. Proponents maintain that the policies improve public safety by fostering institutional trust among immigrant communities and by increasing the willingness of immigrant community members to notify the police after they are victimized. In this study, we situate expectations from the immigrant sanctuary literature within a multilevel, contextualized help-seeking framework to assess how crime-reporting behavior varies across immigrant sanctuary contexts. We find that Latinos are more likely to report violent crime victimization to law enforcement after sanctuary policies have been adopted within their metropolitan areas of residence. We argue that social policy contexts can shift the nature of help-seeking experiences and eliminate barriers that undermine crime victims’ willingness to mobilize the law. Overall, this study highlights the unique role social policy contexts can serve in structuring victims’ help-seeking decisions.

The Immigrant Next Door: Exposure, Prejudice, and Altruism
Leonardo Bursztyn et al.
NBER Working Paper, February 2021


We study how decades-long exposure to individuals of a given foreign descent shapes natives' attitudes and behavior toward that group, exploiting plausibly exogenous shocks to the ancestral composition of US counties. We combine several existing large-scale surveys, cross-county data on implicit prejudice, a newly-collected national survey, and individualized donations data from large charitable organizations. We first show that greater long-term exposure to Arab-Muslims: i) decreases both explicit and implicit prejudice against Arab-Muslims, ii) reduces support for policies and political candidates hostile toward Arab-Muslims, iii) increases charitable donations to Arab countries, iv) leads to more personal contact with Arab-Muslim individuals, and v) increases knowledge of Arab-Muslims and Islam in general. We then generalize our analysis, showing that exposure to any given foreign ancestry leads to more altruistic behavior toward that group.

Why U.S. Immigration Barriers Matter for the Global Advancement of Science
Ruchir Agarwal et al.
UMass Amherst Working Paper, January 2021


This paper studies the impact of U.S. immigration barriers on global knowledge production. We present four key findings. First, among Nobel Prize winners and Fields Medalists, migrants to the U.S. play a central role in the global knowledge network— representing 20-33% of the frontier knowledge producers. Second, using novel survey data and hand-curated life-histories of International Math Olympiad (IMO) medalists, we show that migrants to the U.S. are up to six times more productive than migrants to other countries — even after accounting for talent during one's teenage years. Third, financing costs are a key factor preventing foreign talent from migrating abroad to pursue their dream careers, particularly talent from developing countries. Fourth, certain 'push' incentives that reduce immigration barriers – by addressing financing constraints for top foreign talent – could increase the global scientific output of future cohorts by 42% percent. We conclude by discussing policy options for the U.S. and the global scientific community.

Heightened immigration enforcement impacts US citizens’ birth outcomes: Evidence from early ICE interventions in North Carolina
Romina Tome et al.
PLoS ONE, February 2021


We examine how increased Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities impacted newborn health and prenatal care utilization in North Carolina around the time Section 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act was first being implemented within the state. Focusing on administrative data between 2004 and 2006, we conduct difference-in-differences and triple-difference case-control regression analysis. Pregnancies were classified by levels of potential exposure to immigration enforcement depending on parental nativity and educational attainment. Contrast groups were foreign-born parents residing in nonadopting counties and all US-born non-Hispanic parents. The introduction of the program was estimated to decrease birth weight by 58.54 grams (95% confidence interval [CI], −83.52 to −33.54) with effects likely following from reduced intrauterine growth. These results are shown to coexist with a worsening in the timing of initiation and frequency of prenatal care received. Since birth outcomes influence health, education, and earnings trajectories, our findings suggest that the uptick in ICE activities can have large socioeconomic costs over US-born citizens.

Examining the Educational Spillover Effects of Severe Natural Disasters: The Case of Hurricane Maria
Umut Özek
Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming


This study examines the effects of internal migration driven by severe natural disasters on host communities, and the mechanisms behind these effects, using the large influx of migrants into Florida public schools after Hurricane Maria. I find adverse effects of the influx in the first year on existing student test scores, disciplinary problems, and student mobility among high-performing students in middle and high school that also persist in the second year. I also find evidence that compensatory resource allocation within schools is an important factor driving the adverse effects of large, unexpected migrant flows on incumbent students in the short-run.

Skilled Labor Mobility and Firm Value: Evidence from Green Card Allocations
Mo Shen
Review of Financial Studies, forthcoming


This paper studies how the labor market frictions of skilled workers affect corporate valuation. The analysis features immigrant workers’ mobility constraints imposed by the U.S. green card application process and exploits exogenous variations caused by imperfections in the current immigration system. The study finds that relaxing mobility constraints negatively influences firm value. This effect is stronger for firms with higher labor adjustment costs. Reductions in investments and increases in labor costs are channels through which labor mobility adversely affects firm value. The findings suggest that monopoly rent over skilled workers is an important economic determinant of corporate valuation.

Hope, Emotional Charges, and Online Action: An Experimental Study of the DREAM Act
Luke Elliott-Negri et al.
Social Problems, forthcoming


This study investigates the causal relationship between an under-studied emotion -- hope -- and online action. We ask whether some emotions are more effective than others in driving a semi-behavioral outcome -- clicking a hyperlink. Using an experimental design, we find that a recorded speech that has been “emotionally charged” with hope increases respondents’ willingness to seek information about a contentious social issue, immigrant rights. We argue that the hope charge is uniquely powerful, in part because it energizes both beneficiary constituents (BCs) and conscience constituents (CCs) of social movements, as well as those of broader publics. We suggest that hope is a quintessential bridging charge, linking beneficiary constituents to these other groups. Our study builds on important methodological trends in the developing field of survey experimentation: it uses audio recordings to convey emotional charges and embeds a semi-behavioral measure at the conclusion of an internet-based survey experiment. We argue that hope has been empirically submerged in the discipline, and, when used to charge social movement frames, has under-acknowledged mobilizing power.


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