When local police started quizzing people about their immigration status, some immigrants relocated but they usually did not leave the U.S., says a new study reported by the Los Angeles Times. A working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that when state and local officials took on the power to enforce some immigration laws by investigating immigration violations on the street, immigrants were more likely to relocate within the country.
Only in Arizona's Maricopa County, known for the controversial immigration policies of Sheriff Joe Arpaio,were immigrants more likely to abandon the United States entirely. “After the extreme case of Maricopa County is excluded, there is no evidence that local enforcement causes the foreign-born to exit the United States or deters their entry from abroad,” wrote economist Tara Watson of Williams College. The findings are likely to add fuel to the debate over whether policing immigration locally will prod immigrants who are in the country illegally to leave.